Insurance pros offer tips on insuring homes before a hurricane hits

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- You should already have an insurance policy for your home, but most homeowners find out the hard way that their policy doesn't cover property damage caused by hurricanes and floods.

"We had a pretty good shake-up about five years ago when companies excluded wind and hail from policies," said Billy Swails with State Farm Insurance.

But is flood insurance really needed for everyone?

"I don't think anybody that lives east of the Cooper should be without flood insurance," said Swails. "Your homeowner's insurance does not cover flood insurance, and it is important that you buy that separate."

Understanding your insurance policy can be difficult at times to understand, but for a better understanding.

"Please help me with this: what is the coverage on my house? What coverage do I have on my content? What is my deductible? Is there any other coverage that I should be aware of?" asked Swails.

And speaking of another coverage, how about that flood insurance? Do I need to go to different company or online for my specific location? What information do I need?

"You need an elevation certificate, but first you need to call your agent," said Swails. "See what they think. If you ask me I'm going to tell you, 'Yes you need it.' They are going to say, 'I'm in a flood zone.' We have a test that we run that tells you exactly what flood zone you are in if you are in one. We're going to tell you that you need an elevation certificate from a surveyor."

But just how expensive is flood insurance?

"You're going to be surprised how much flood insurance costs," said Swails. "It's not very expensive. I'll give you an example of mine: $250 on the house, $100,000 on the contents, two feet above what it should be. I just paid the premium. It's $454 for the year, which is pretty cheap coverage in my opinion."

And the most important thing with insurance is to be proactive.

"Don't wait till the warning is here. Buy your insurance now and know what you have," said Swails.