RICHMOND — With hurricane season upon us, the State
Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to consider
their insurance options before the winds and rains arrive. This includes reviewing
the details of your insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage you need.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. 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.
No matter where you live in Virginia, hurricanes and their resulting flooding can
threaten lives and property. Last summer’s Hurricane Irene serves as a striking
reminder of the devastating power of these storms in terms of deaths, injuries,
and damage to homes, businesses and other property. That storm impacted much of
the East Coast, including Virginia, taking dozens of lives and causing an estimated
$7 billion in damage.
“Plan 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 form. Know what your policy
does and does not cover. Contact your insurance agent or company or the Bureau of
Insurance if you have questions.”
The Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that hurricane damage very often comes
from flooding as well as 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, surface water or surges. 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 new 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 www.floodsmart.gov. Be sure to find out whether
your flood policy provides coverage for your contents.
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 policyholder would pay
$2,000 and the insurance company would pay $1,000.
Policyholders may also want to consider the following and contact their agent or
company for more information:
- Does your insurance pay replacement costs, or actual cash value for a covered loss?
- Are you covered in the event your sewer backs up?
- Are you covered in the event your house is not up to applicable building codes?
- Are automobiles and other vehicles covered in the event of a hurricane or other
Plan ahead and know what to do if a disaster strikes your home or business property.
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.