Editor's note: Virginia's State Corporation Commission's Bureau of Insurance issued this news release on Tuesday, May 28. It contains helpful information about reviewing your insurance policies before the Mid-Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. No matter where you live in Virginia, hurricanes and their resulting flooding can threaten lives and property. Once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic, it will be difficult to find an insurance company willing to write related coverage until the storm threat passes.
“Protect your physical and financial well-being by planning ahead and knowing what to do if a disaster strikes,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “Make sure you have the insurance coverage you need before the first hurricane begins to brew.”
Review your existing insurance policy carefully so you know what it does and does not cover. Contact your insurance agent or company or the Bureau of Insurance if you have any questions.
Some homeowners policies contain a special deductible for wind or hurricane losses. Some insurance companies automatically include a wind or hurricane deductible, while others offer this deductible at the policyholder’s option. The deductible is the amount that you are responsible for paying before the insurance company pays its portion of the claim.
Wind or hurricane deductibles may be written as a flat amount, such as $1,000. Or, they may be applied to the loss as a percentage of the insurance coverage on the dwelling. For example, assume a hurricane causes damage amounting to $3,000 and the dwelling is insured for $100,000. If the policy has a two-percent hurricane deductible, the insured would pay $2,000 and the insurance company would pay $1,000. The amounts of these deductibles may vary depending upon where you live, so the Bureau suggests that you shop around and compare prices and terms.
The Bureau reminds Virginians that most hurricane damage comes from flooding, not high winds. Homeowners insurance policies issued in Virginia generally do not provide coverage for damage to your home and belongings due to floods. However, the federal government does sell insurance for direct flood and flood-related damage to residents of eligible communities through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There is a waiting period for flood insurance policies to take effect. For more information on this program, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-888-225-5356 or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
Be sure to find out whether your flood policy provides coverage for your contents.
Policyholders may also want to consider the following:
- Does your insurance pay replacement costs, or actual cash value for a covered loss?
- Are contents of your home covered in the event of a hurricane? Homeowners policies generally cover contents up to specified limits, but additional coverage may be purchased.
- Are automobiles and other vehicles covered in the event of a hurricane or other windstorm?
- Have you purchased coverage for sewer backup? Most homeowners policies do not provide coverage for sewer backup, but policyholders may purchase additional coverage for this.
Ask your insurance agent or company how you can reduce the severity of a loss, should a hurricane strike. If you must evacuate, know the name of your insurance company and take your homeowners, auto and other insurance policies with you. They will contain your policy number and the phone number of your insurance company in case you have questions or need to file a claim.
Prepare a complete inventory of your personal property ahead of time including serial numbers, photographs and videotapes. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ free smartphone app – myHOME Scr.APP.book – makes creating a home inventory easier than ever. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play. Keep your home inventory in a safe place, and take it with you if you evacuate. If your property is damaged by a hurricane, make any necessary emergency repairs and take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. Make a list of all damage to the house and its contents and include photographs, notes and repair-related receipts.
The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides for homeowners and commercial property owners with information about what to do when a disaster strikes. These and many other consumer insurance guides are available on the Bureau’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi
The Bureau’s specially trained staff can assist consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns. For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560or in Richmond at (804) 371-9185. Consumers who are hearing or speech impaired may call through the SCC’s telecommunications device for the deaf and hard of hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206.
For additional emergency preparedness information relating to hurricanes and other types of disasters, visit www.ready.virginia.gov.