RICHMOND — With the arrival of hurricane season, the
State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to plan
now for the next disaster. This includes reviewing the details of your insurance
policy to make sure you have the coverage you need before a hurricane, flood, tornado,
or other calamity strikes.
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. History has shown that flooding is the most costly natural disaster
in the United States, causing extensive damage to homes, businesses, and belongings.
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.
“Prepare now for the unexpected,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline
K. Cunningham. “Protect your family, home, and belongings by making sure you have
adequate insurance coverage before the first hurricane starts to churn in the Atlantic.
Know what your policy does and does not cover. If you have questions, contact your
insurance agent or company or the Bureau of Insurance,” she said.
Some homeowners policies contain a special deductible for wind or hurricane losses.
These are applied separately from any other deductible on the homeowners policy.
Some insurance companies automatically include a wind or hurricane deductible, while
others offer this deductible at the policyholder’s option. 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 Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that most hurricane damage comes from
flooding, not high winds. Even areas hundreds of miles from the coast are at risk
for flooding as hurricanes and tropical storms move inland bringing torrential rains
and 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 homeowners, renters, and businesses in eligible communities through its National
Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period
for a flood insurance policy to take effect. For more information on this program,
contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or visit
Policyholders may also want to consider the following:
- Does your insurance pay replacement costs, or actual cash value for a covered loss?
- Do you have sufficient coverage for the contents of your home 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
- Have you purchased coverage for sewer backup? Most homeowners policies do not provide
coverage for sewer backup, but policyholders may purchase additional coverage for
The Bureau of Insurance encourages policyholders to prepare a complete inventory
of their personal property ahead of time including serial numbers, photographs,
and videotapes. Keep this inventory in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box
or at work. If a hurricane damages your property, 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
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 numbers
and the phone numbers of your insurance companies in case you have questions or
need to file a claim.
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 Consumer Services Section
of the Bureau’s 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. The mailing address for the Bureau of Insurance is P.O. Box 1157,
Richmond, Virginia 23218.
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.