June 1, 2010 – CHICAGO – As hurricane season officially begins today, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is offering home and business owners an important and useful list of steps to take immediately prior to and following a hurricane.
PCI wants to help residents in hurricane-prone states make preparations for the threat of devastating storms. It is easy to underestimate the risk we face, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a very active storm season with three to seven major hurricanes, and we recommend that homeowners, businesses and public policymakers take the necessary steps to ensure that everyone is prepared. The following tips and brochures will help consumers reduce exposure to losses and make certain that they have adequate insurance coverage to recover from the economic damage a catastrophic event.
- Review your property insurance policy, especially the “declarations” page, which summarizes the coverage you have purchased.
- Talk with your agent/insurer to make sure you have the right policies with adequate limits. Your agent or insurance company can assist you in determining the type of policies you should have and the correct limits of coverage.
- Get flood insurance. Inland flooding can occur as far as 500 miles from the site of a hurricane. Flooding is not covered in standard homeowners insurance policies. However, it may be purchased through insurance agents from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
- Make sure you know the amount of your deductible. The deductible is the amount of loss that the homeowner must pay. It may be based on the value of your home or a fixed dollar amount.
- Purchase insurance well in advance of a storm. Most insurers will not offer insurance after a hurricane watch or warning has been issued. The NFIP also has a 30-day waiting period before the policy is effective.
- Inventory household items now to speed up claims processing after the storm.
- Store important documents where they will stay safe and dry.
- Develop an emergency plan before the emergency. Determine escape routes, establish a meeting place, stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit with enough food and water for three to seven days. When severe weather is approaching your area, listen carefully to local authorities and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your property.
- Perform routine home maintenance now to avoid major repairs later. Mitigation is a critical component in reducing the amount of damage that may occur when a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall.
- Don�t make your house a target for debris. Protect your property by covering all windows with plywood or shutters, moving vehicles into the garage when possible and placing grills and patio furniture indoors.
PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $180 billion in annual premium, 37.4 percent of the nation�s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 44 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 30.7 percent of the homeowners market, 35.1 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41.7 percent of the private workers compensation market. www.pciaa.net