7 On Your Side: Are You Covered When Disaster Strikes?

Hurricane Katrina victims will be coming home to devastation, many homes from this storm are already under water. What's worse is realizing the damage is not covered by your insurance. "When there is a major catastrophe you do see an increase of people concerned about how their coverage will apply in those storms," says Tyler Insurance Agent John Gentry. Gentry has been in the insurance business for more than 20 years. He says the biggest mistake homeowners make is choosing not to get certain types of coverage for the sake of having a lower premium. "The consumers need to make sure they're buying a replacement cost policy. And they need to update their policy on an annual basis to make sure that it's keeping pace with inflation," says Gentry. One of the biggest surprises to homeowners in recent years is when they can't file a claim for flood damage. "Flood insurance is not covered under your homeowner policies. You have to buy a national flood policy from the government. A lot of people don't realize that and take the opportunity to purchase these policies." Gentry says what you should be doing, and doing now, is taking inventory of the items in your home and keep it in a safety deposit box. "Either hand write things down, keep up with your personal receipts and video your personal belongings. Because in the event of a major loss, it will be difficult for you to recall all your items in your household." It's key advice so in case your home takes an unexpected direct hit, there won't be any surprises in the rebuilding process.

Gentry adds, claims filed in Louisiana and Mississippi in the coming months will likely raise premiums for everyone across the country.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com