RICHMOND — Hurricanes and their accompanying winds
and rains are forces to be reckoned with. In Virginia alone, hurricanes have caused
dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, and other
property during the past decade. Virginia, like much of the East Coast, is watching
and waiting anxiously now as Hurricane Irene churns its way through the Atlantic
Ocean toward the United States.
Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham urges Virginians to know
what to do before a hurricane or other disaster strikes your home or business property.
The Bureau is your source for insurance information relating to disasters.
The potential threat of property damage from Hurricane Irene, if it strikes at or
near the Virginia coastline, will raise many questions from Virginia policyholders.
Those questions will include how to minimize property damage and, if such damage
occurs, how to expedite the processing of claims with your insurance company.
Due to the high winds associated with hurricanes, it is a good idea to secure all
outside furniture and remove all other loose items from your property. You can make
the claim process easier if you have a complete list of the belongings in your home.
This list should include all of the vital information about your belongings, such
as the brand name, price, date of purchase, model, and serial number. Receipts and
photos are always helpful.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free smartphone
app – myHOME Scr.APP.book – to help you create a home inventory. This app lets users
photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes, and serial numbers, and
then stores them electronically for safekeeping. To download myHOME Scr.APP.book
for iPhone® users, visit the iTunes® App Store or do a search for “NAIC” in the
app store from your iPhone. Additional information about the app, as well as a simple
home inventory checklist, are available on the NAIC website at
Advance planning is the key to successfully weathering disasters. Now is the time
to gather your insurance documents, such as your homeowners, automobile, life, health,
and business insurance policies. Should you need to report a claim or evacuate a
high risk area, it is important to have all your insurance information with you.
Be sure you have copies of your insurance policies readily available, as well as
information on how to reach your insurance company or agent to report a claim, such
as the telephone number for the claims department. Since flood damage is not covered
by a standard homeowners or renter's insurance policy, if you have a separate flood
insurance policy, remember to keep a copy of the policy and the contact details
for the insurance company with you. Know how your policy’s deductibles are applied
in the event you need to file a claim. Contact your insurance company or agent if
you have questions about your coverage.
The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides with information about what
to do when a disaster strikes. The guides, entitled “What to Do After an Insured
Commercial Property Loss” and “What to Do After an Insured Homeowners Loss,” deal
specifically with insurance-related disaster recovery issues. Both provide answers
to the most commonly asked questions about settling disaster-related insurance problems.
These and many other consumer insurance guides are available on the Bureau’s website
The Bureau also has specially trained staff who can help consumers with their disaster-related
insurance questions or problems. For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance
at (804) 371-9185 (Property and Casualty Division) or (804) 371-9691 (Life and Health
Division) or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560. 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. Correspondence may be mailed to the Bureau of Insurance
at P. O. Box 1157, Richmond, VA 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.