RICHMOND — Virginians know all too well that Mother
Nature can be a determined adversary. With hurricane season just around the corner,
the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians
to consider their insurance options
before the winds and rains arrive.
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
“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
- Are automobiles and other vehicles covered in the event of a hurricane or other
- Have you purchased coverage for sewer backup? Most homeowners policies do not provide
coverage for sewer backup, but policyholders may purchase additional coverage for
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
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 1-877-310-6560 or 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. This statewide public education
effort is designed to prepare Virginians for all kinds of hazards.