Although hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been relatively quiet so far for 2018 with only five named storms to date, the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance is reminding Virginians not to let their guard down.
With more than three months left in the Atlantic hurricane season, the Bureau is encouraging Virginians to act now to protect their property from loss.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November 30. Late August to early October is often the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity, according to a press release issued by the Bureau. The release added that once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic Ocean, it can be difficult to find an insurance company willing to write related coverage until the storm threat passes.
With this in mind, the Bureau is encouraging homeowners, renters and business owners to review their insurance policies now to ensure they have enough coverage in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. It stated it’s important to know what each policy does and does not cover and understand any deductibles that need to be paid in the event of a claim. Additionally, the Bureau said it’s important to ask the insurance company or agent how to minimize property damage and, if such damage occurs, how to expedite the processing of claims.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White in the release. “The time to prepare for hurricanes and other disasters is now. Know your risk and make sure you have the coverage you need before a hurricane starts to form.”
The Bureau is encouraging homeowners to prepare a complete inventory of personal property including serial numbers, photographs and videotapes, and if property is damaged, to call the insurance company or agent as soon as possible. It urged homeowners to make any necessary emergency repairs and take reasonable steps to prevent further damage, as well as record all damage and include photographs, notes and repair-related receipts.
If homeowners evacuate, it’s important to bring homeowners, auto and other insurance policies and home inventory or save them electronically, the Bureau said.
The Bureau also encouraged policyholders to consider the following:
- Is the home covered in the event of a flood, surface water or storm surge? Homeowners insurance policies issued in Virginia generally do not provide coverage for damage to the home and belongings due to flood, surface water or storm surge. However, flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There is typically a 30-day waiting period for a new flood insurance policy to take effect.
- Does the 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. The deductible is the amount that should be paid before the insurance company pays its portion of the claim.
- Does the 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 homeowners have other than collision coverage, often referred to as comprehensive, for their vehicles under their automobile policy, the vehicles generally will be covered for flood and wind damage.
Source: The Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance
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