Now that Irene's come and gone, it has many of us thinking about the next storm.

AIR Worldwide lists South Carolina's insured coastal exposure at $191.9 billion (including residential and commercial). This represents about 28 percent of the state's total insured value, says Russ Dubisky, executive director of the S.C. Insurance News Service, a nonprofit organization that provides property and casualty insurance information to the public.

David Pooser and Billy Swails Jr. of 1st Capital Insurance in Mount Pleasant say coastal properties are rated differently, and it can take multiple policies to make sure your property is insured correctly. Take a look at your current policy and call your agent if you are unclear. Swails and Pooser offer these tips to make sure you are protected in the event of a disaster:

Timing is important. Once storms reach a certain longitude/latitude, insurance companies shut down and you can't purchase a home policy.

Understand your coverage. Know what the deductibles are for separate policies. This could mean a difference of thousands of dollars. Basic homeowners policies cover only named perils. A $250,000 policy actually can cover $650,000 worth of property. "Some people don't understand that you are insuring the dwelling, contents and loss of use," Pooser said. "For restaurants for example, it covers power outages, food spoilage and more."

Wind and hail insurance. Make sure wind and hail is covered under your home-owners policy. Be aware that there is a 15-day waiting period for coverage.

Flood/excess flood/earthquake insurance also aren't included. You usually must ask for that. Read David Slade's column about it in the Aug. 28 edition of The Post and Courier. Flood insurance is not part of a homeowner's policy. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage unless it's a loan closing or a renewal.

Know if you have replacement cost or actual cash value. ACV is the standard insurance companies use to reimburse policyholders for their losses. This is calculated by the cost of the home and contents minus depreciation. Replacement costs can be more. If you've renovated or added any additions since getting the policy, the value of your home has probably increased.

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