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Hurricane season is here — are you ready?

Officially, hurricane season runs from June through the end of November. And according to the experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this season might be stormier than usual.

We have a 70 percent chance of 13 to 20 named storms — the average is 12 a season, the NOAA says. Seven to 11 could be whipped into hurricanes — compared to the usual six — and about half of this year’s hurricanes will be major, meaning winds of 111 mph or more.

Homeowner’s policies don’t cover flooding, so if you think you might be underwater by any of these storms, you can buy a federal flood insurance policy through an agent. The policy doesn’t kick in until 30 days after purchase, so you can’t buy it as storm clouds gather and expect to be covered.

Many homeowners may not be aware that their homeowner’s policy contains a so-called hurricane deductible. If a hurricane damages your house, you have to pay this deductible before the rest of your coverage kicks in. Rather than a flat dollar deductible, a hurricane deductible is a percentage, say, 5 percent of the house’s covered value. That means if your coverage is $200,000, your hurricane deductible is $10,000.

Nineteen states, including Maryland, as well as Washington, D.C.,  have hurricane deductibles. The Insurance Information Institute published a state-by-state list on how they vary.

The Institute said Maryland revised its regulations after Hurricane Irene in 2011. A hurricane deductible will only apply if the house is located in an area in which the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning. Deductibles in Maryland can’t be more than 5 percent unless the insurer gets permission from the Maryland Insurance Administration commissioner.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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