For Immediate Release: May 26, 2010
Contacts: Kristin Milam 919-807-6011
Are you Prepared for Hurricane Season?
Insurance Commissioner Goodwin and DOI offer tips to help consumers prepare for storms.
RALEIGH -- This week is national Hurricane Preparedness Week, and next week marks the beginning of hurricane season, June 1-Nov. 30. That's why Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is reminding North Carolinians to get a head start on disaster preparedness before a storm strikes.
"One of the most basic ways for people to get prepared is to review their insurance policies, inventory their home's contents and compile important documents in a safe place," explains Commissioner Goodwin. "Knowing what your coverage is now gives you the chance to make adjustments and have those adjustments take effect before a storm comes to North Carolina." A lot of homeowners and renters are not familiar with their policies and may think they have more coverage than they really do, Goodwin added.
Consider these quick facts and insurance tips during your hurricane season preparation:
If you rent, you need insurance.
If you live in rental property, your landlord's insurance only covers the building. None of your personal belongings are insured unless you purchase your own renters policy. Renters' policies are inexpensive and provide essential coverage in case of damage to your personal property.
Flooding is not covered unless you buy a flood insurance policy.
Remember, the standard homeowners policy does not cover damage caused by rising flood waters. Flooding can occur in any part of the state, from the mountains to the coast, and even if you are not in a flood zone, you may be at risk. Keep these things in mind:
- if you do not have flood coverage and you suffer a flooding-related loss, your only resource is whatever funding that might be made available by the federal government. This may be limited or not enough to fully compensate you for your loss.
- consider your flooding risk. Do you live near a body of water? Are you in a low-lying area? Has your neighborhood flooded before? Your insurance agent can help you assess your risk.
- you can only purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but there is a 30-day waiting period before flood policies take effect, so don't wait until a storm is approaching to purchase coverage.
- call the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661 or go online at www.floodsmart.gov for more information. You can also talk to your insurance agent; many local agents can help you purchase a policy.
If a storm is approaching, take these steps.
- Gather any and all important paperwork, including copies of insurance policies, medical records, prescriptions, etc. Make sure you bring copies with you if you are forced to evacuate.
- Make a list of your belongings and take pictures or videotape them. Include a close-up shot of the day's newspaper to provide the date. Keep your inventory list along with purchase receipts, pictures and your insurance policy in a safe-deposit box or other safe place away from your home.
- In the event of a storm, take action to protect your property - cover your windows with storm shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into garages when possible, or park them near your home and away from trees.
- Prevent outdoor items from becoming projectiles that can harm your property or neighboring homes. Grills, patio furniture and potted plants should be moved into the house or garage. Loose objects in your yard can become missiles, so tie down anything you can not bring indoors.
After a storm follow these tips:
- If you suffer property loss in your home or vehicle, contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible to arrange a visit from an adjuster. The Department of Insurance will be in close contact with top insurance companies doing business in the state. We will have up-to-date consumer hotline numbers available for those who need to contact their companies.
- Before doing any repairs to your house, photograph and make a list of the damage.
- Protect your home from further damage by making temporary repairs only, until your insurance company can advise you further. Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs.
- Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
- If necessary, rent temporary shelter. If your home is uninhabitable due to physical damage (not lack of power or water), most homeowners policies pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Before renting temporary shelter, check with your insurance company or agent to determine what expenses will be reimbursed.
If you have questions or problems concerning your insurance coverage, contact the Department of Insurance's Consumer helpline at 1-800-546-5664 or visit the NC-DOI Web site by clicking on this link.