Homeowners on the coast of Alabama and some other states battered by Gulf of Mexico hurricanes in recent years are better prepared for a major storm than those along the Atlantic coast, an insurance survey found.
The survey, sponsored by seven major insurance companies and released Thursday in Washington, D.C., sampled 4,200 home-insured residents from Texas through Maine during a two-week period in June.
The survey released by the Insurance Information Institute found that coastal residents overall have taken 48 percent of the steps necessary to prepare their property to recover from a major hurricane.
In the wake of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, homeowners on the Alabama-Mississippi coast have taken 58 percent of the steps necessary, the survey found, and Louisiana homeowners were 60 percent prepared.
Coastal Georgia homeowners and south Floridians also had 58 percent scores to tie the Alabama-Mississippi homeowners. Other coastal residents from Texas to Maine had lower scores.
The survey looked for preparations that included reviewing home-insurance policies, owning a separate flood insurance policy or developing a family disaster plan.
It also examined whether residents had made repairs or improvements to their homes, or stored important documents such as insurance policy information in a safe place.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Although 79 percent of coastal Alabama homeowners surveyed knew that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods, only 23 percent have gotten separate flood insurance.
“It’s not too late to get ready, but it’s close,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president at the Insurance Information Institute. “There is a 30-day waiting period for federal flood insurance to take effect, so homeowners need to call their agents now.”
Dave Rickey, a spokesman for Montgomery-based Alfa Insurance, which represents 20 percent of the market in Alabama, said the high risk of natural disaster on the coast is problematic when issuing insurance.
“There’s a philosophical question that insurance companies face,” he said. “Should your customer base bear the increased cost of insurance in coastal areas?”
Alabamians have the option to participate in a “beach” insurance pool, an alternative to insurance policies offered by private companies, said Ragan Ingram, associate commissioner at the Alabama Department of Insurance, a state regulatory agency.
The number of policies in this pool nearly doubled since Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, Ingram said. That hurricane caused nearly $13 billion in damage and five deaths in Alabama.
There are now 6,000 policies that are part of this pool, and the premium volume has increased from $5 million to $9 million from 2004 to 2006.