Paul Meloan – Vested Interest

Yesterday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe program chronicled the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy six months after it struck the New Jersey-New York coastline and caused billions of dollars in damage, in addition to killing 159 in the U.S. and injuring hundreds more.  It is a testimony to U.S. communications, weather forecasting, and infrastructure that more were not killed in such a widespread and dangerous storm.

It is also testimony to U.S infrastructure that nearly $75 billion in economic damage was sustained, as the storm battered a highly populated area with extensive development along oceanfront real estate, exactly the area most at risk from such a storm.

Here is an ugly truth: many of those people are never, ever going to be made whole, economically anyway.  Many are faced with the choice of razing their homes and rebuilding in a completely different fashion, or paying insurance premiums that will be a multiple of their earlier payments.   Putting aside the equitable question of who should bear the risk of living in such an area, suffice it to say their way of life prior to October 29, 2012 is now over.

At least once a year, take out your homeowner’s insurance policy, and remind yourself of what it does, and does not cover.  Understand how exposed you are should the worst happen.  Since the worst rarely ever happens, understand your exposure in the event something far less than the worst happens.

If you don’t understand it, find someone who does.  (hint, hint……..)

Once you understand it, you can take the appropriate measures.  Then you can file it away and forget about it for another year.  Chances are after the first time you do this, the second time will take less than five minutes.

Paul Meloan is the co-founder and co-managing member of Aegis Wealth Management, LLC, in Bethesda, Maryland USA. Before Aegis Paul was a practicing attorney as well as working in the tax practice of Ernst & Young, LLP.

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