For Immediate Release: September 1, 2010
Contacts: Kristin Milam or Kerry Hall: 919-733-5238
Commissioner Goodwin Urges Consumers to Prepare for Hurricane Earl
The N.C. Department of Insurance offers tips for what to do before and after a storm hits.
RALEIGH -- Weather forecasts indicate that Hurricane Earl is on a path that could impact North Carolina this week. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is reminding all North Carolinians to take precautions before the storm's arrival.
"Hurricanes can affect homeowners in every part of our state," said Commissioner Goodwin. "The steps you take before a storm hits can help protect your property and ease the process of making an insurance claim should you unfortunately suffer damage or loss."
Before a storm hits, you should:
- Gather important paperwork, including insurance policies, medical records, prescriptions, etc. Bring copies with you if you evacuate your home.
- Inventory your belongings by making a list and taking pictures or videos. Store the list, pictures/videos, purchase receipts and your insurance policy in a safe-deposit box or other safe place away from your home. Find more tips to create your home inventory here: http://www.ncdoi.com/Consumer/Documents/HomeInventory.pdf
- Take action to protect your property from a storm. Cover windows with storm shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into garages when possible, or park near your home away from trees.
- Loose objects in your yard can become projectiles that can cause injuries to people or damage to homes. Move items like grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage. Tie down anything you cannot bring indoors.
- Know exactly what your insurance policy does and does not cover. Remember, no homeowners policy covers flooding. The only way to protect your property from flood losses is to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program; policies must be in place for 30 days before coverage takes effect. Contact your agent for more information. Further, some policies in North Carolina's coastal areas may not cover wind-related damage.
Take the following measures after the storm hits:
- 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.
- Most damage to your home or surrounding structures resulting from fallen trees is covered by your homeowners policy. Check with your agent or company before calling the tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered.
- Damage to your vehicles resulting from fallen trees or debris may be covered by your auto policy if you have comprehensive coverage. Check with your agent to determine whether your vehicle is covered.
The Department of Insurance's Consumer Services Division is available to assist consumers with questions or complaints. Consumers can call the following numbers during business hours for help with insurance questions: 919-807-6750 (local or outside of N.C.) or toll free within North Carolina, 1-800-546-5664.