SCC Encourages Virginians to Review Their Property Insurance at the Midpoint of Hurricane Season
AUG 29, 2023
RICHMOND – There have already been nine named storms during the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, three of which have developed into hurricanes and one into a major hurricane. As Hurricane Idalia makes its way toward the Florida coast, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) reminds Virginians that the time to plan for hurricanes and other disasters is now.
Late August to early October is often the most dangerous and active time for tropical storm activity. Whether you’re a homeowner, renter or business, review your insurance and make sure you have the coverage you need 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 may be difficult to obtain coverage once a storm is headed your way, so review your coverage ahead of time 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, your loved ones and your belongings both physically and financially,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Assess your risk and make sure you have the insurance coverage you need before a storm begins to brew.”
The Bureau encourages Virginians to talk to their insurance agent or company if they 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.
The Bureau also recommends creating a detailed home inventory of your belongings with photos, videos and serial numbers. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) free smartphone app – https://content.naic.org/consumer/home-inventory – can 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 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 sewer backup? Many 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” coverage) for your vehicle under your automobile policy, your vehicles generally should be covered for flood and wind damage.
The Bureau 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 disaster readiness section of its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Disaster-Readiness.
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/.
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