Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia has been schedule for Feb. 4 – 8, and the state’s Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens wants to remind homeowners of some important insurance tips to protect their property from tornadoes, flooding and other weather-related hazards.Commissioner Hudgens cautioned that while tornadoes can occur at any time of year if atmospheric conditions are right, March, April and May are considered prime months for tornadoes to strike.
On April 27-28, 2011, tornadoes caused severe damage across 21 states including Georgia, killing more than 300 people.
“Georgia’s tornado season is just around the corner, and we want all Georgia consumers to be familiar with steps they should take to minimize property damage and financial hardship caused by storms,” Hudgens said.
Commissioner Hudgens offers these reminders and tips:
• While a standard homeowner’s insurance policy covers damage from high winds and tornadoes, it does not cover damage from flooding. A separate policy must be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, and can only be purchased if the homeowner’s community participates in the national program. However, a standard mobile home policy can cover damage caused by floods. Consumers should check their policies.
• Homeowners should make a list of all valuables, furniture, electronics, etc., and photograph or videotape their possessions. Keep copies of the list, photographs and videotape in a safe place outside the home. If the home is damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster, it may be difficult to tell the insurance agent what was lost without proof.
• Keep the insurance policy numbers and the insurance agent’s phone number in a safe place as well.
• If disaster strikes, contact the agent or insurance company immediately.
• Protect the property from further damage. For example, if the roof is damaged, cover it with a tarp to prevent water damage from subsequent rain. Most policies will not cover such damage.
• Make sure to understand the difference between actual cash value (ACV) and replacement cost coverage for the contents, and obtain the coverage that best suits one’s needs. An ACV policy replaces contents at cost minus depreciation. With the replacement cost coverage, the contents will be replaced at today’s prices.
For more information, consumers can contact Commissioner Hudgens’ Consumer Services Division at 404-656-2070 or toll-free at 1-800-656-2298. Calls are taken from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. More safey tips are also available online at www.oci.ga.gov.