Financial expert Suze Orman
As recent natural disasters have taught us, we all need to give our insurance policies a checkup:  
  • If you're in a flood zone or an area susceptible to hurricanes and strong storms, you need flood insurance: Damage from rising water isn't covered in standard policies. Ask your agent to help, and look into the federal policy offered by FEMA ( If you want your flood insurance to cover the contents of your home, you'll have to pay a higher premium. It's worth it.

  • Understand your replacement coverage. Make sure you know what it would really cost if you needed to buy or build a comparable home, given today's costs, and adjust your policy accordingly. Ask what you'd be paid if you decided to move to a different location.

  • Your possessions should also be insured for replacement cost. "Actual value" coverage might leave you dangerously underinsured; you'd be paid only the depreciated value of your lost items.

  • If you find yourself at odds with your insurer, don't give up. Ask for a detailed, written account of why your claim was denied, and challenge those findings. If that doesn't work, contact your state insurance department (look on and file a complaint. For a loss resulting from a massive disaster, find others who were denied claims from your carrier and fight together—there's power in numbers.


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