SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If your mind has been occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s something else to think about: hurricane season begins Monday, June 1.
Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John King is telling consumers that now is the time to check your insurance policies to find out if you would have sufficient coverage if a storm damaged your home.
He says that Georgians who live in coastal counties face the most danger from a hazardous storm but that in recent years that people living inland can still face heavy rain, winds, and even flooding.
“It’s strongly recommended you contact your agent to check on your homeowners, business, or flood insurance policy to see if you have sufficient coverage. Remember, flood insurance policies (can) take 30 days to go into effect,” said King. “Waiting for your home to be in a hurricane’s potential path is entirely too late to inquire about flood insurance.”
State Farm Agent Pat Parker whose office is in Pooler agrees.
“It’s certainly a time to plan and make sure that you’re aware of your insurance coverage and that it’s up to date,” said Parker. “We all hope for the best and plan for the worst but I do know it’s supposed to be a pretty active hurricane season.”
Insurance Commissioner King recommends:
- Make a list of your covered items (furniture, electronics, appliances, valuables, etc.). This list should include pictures of the items as well. Maintaining both a written and electronic version of the list is recommended. It is also advised that you keep the written record somewhere outside of the home or business, such as a safety deposit box. The electronic version should be saved in your email or stored on Dropbox. Having an accurate, up-to-date record of your valuables is essential when filing a claim after a catastrophic storm.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance. You can purchase up to $250,000 in federally-backed flood insurance from the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) for your home and up to $500,000 for your business. Some items that are covered in a policy from the NFIP include, but are not limited to: your home and its foundation, electrical and plumbing system, air conditioning unit, furnace, water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, window blinds, and removal of debris.
- Decide whether or not you would like actual cash value coverage or replacement cost coverage. Actual cash value coverage will grant you only the current value of an item when you file a claim. To put it simply, you will get only “used” prices for your electronics, furniture, appliances, etc. On the other hand, replacement cost coverage will grant you enough money to purchase new items that were lost or damaged.
Parker says to keep in mind that in some cases, a flood policy could take up to one month to become effective. However, he says if you live in a flood zone and are buying a home, that a flood policy takes effect immediately because having flood coverage is a “part of closing.”
In other cases, people who don’t live in an area where flood insurance is required (but who want to purchase it anyway) will likely have to wait the 30 days. Parker, by the way, suggests that most people buy flood insurance where it’s required on flood maps.
He says water doesn’t automatically stop at the flood zone line and that many people who live in inland areas can also have flooding in their homes for a variety of reasons
Parker does acknowledge that while dealing with a pandemic, many people may not have been thinking about how to prepare for storms and hurricanes this season.
“I can’t imagine going through what we did with Hurricane Matthew and having to deal with the COVID situation at the same time,” he said. “But nobody should let COVID keep them from planning for these types of things.”