RICHMOND — As Hurricane Dorian churns toward Florida, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that late August to early October is often the most dangerous and active time for tropical storm activity. Plan now and make certain you are properly insured before disaster strikes.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30. Even areas hundreds of miles from the coast can be impacted by the high winds, heavy rains and flooding that accompany hurricanes and tropical storms. It will be difficult to get related coverage once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic so whether you are a homeowner, renter or business, review your coverage now and make any necessary changes.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect yourself and your property from a hurricane or other natural disaster. Take steps now to protect yourself physically and financially,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Know your risk and make sure you have the coverage you need before a storm begins to brew.”
The Bureau encourages Virginians to talk to your insurance agent or company if you have questions about what is and is not covered, how to reduce property damage and what to do if damage does occur.
Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover losses due to flooding. Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance or visit the National Flood Insurance Program’s website at www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about protecting your home or business from damage due to floods, surface water or storm surge. There is typically a 30-day waiting period for a new flood insurance policy to take effect.
Create a detailed inventory list with photos, videos and serial numbers of your belongings. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free smartphone app – myHOME Scr.APP.book – to facilitate this process. Place your insurance policies and inventory in a safe place and take them with you if you must evacuate. These records will contain your policy numbers and the phone numbers of your insurance companies in case you have questions or need to file a claim.
If your property is damaged by a hurricane, contact your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible. To protect your property from any further damage, make necessary emergency repairs. Document all damage to your property and include photographs, notes and repair-related receipts.
The Bureau also encourages policyholders to consider the following:
- Does your homeowners policy contain a special deductible for wind or hurricane losses? These deductibles are applied separately from any other deductible on a homeowners policy and may be written as a flat amount, such as $1,000, or applied to a loss as a percentage of the insurance coverage on the dwelling.
- Does your homeowners policy provide coverage for such things as sewer backup? Most homeowners policies do not provide coverage for sewer backup, but policyholders may purchase additional coverage for this.
- Are vehicles covered in the event of a hurricane or windstorm? If you have other- than-collision coverage (often referred to as “comprehensive”) for your vehicle under your automobile policy, your vehicles generally will be covered for flood and wind damage.
The Bureau of Insurance has specially trained staff who can assist consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns. To learn more, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9185. The Bureau also offers free consumer guides for homeowners and commercial property owners with information about what to do when a disaster strikes. These are available on the new disaster readiness section of its website at https://www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/disaster.aspx .
For additional emergency preparedness information relating to hurricanes and other types of disasters, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website at www.vaemergency.gov.