Severe Storm Season Already Beginning in Several States
CHICAGO — While it is impossible to predict how severe the weather will be during the next few months, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging homeowners to take precautions such as putting together an emergency supply kit and making sure their auto and homeowners insurance policies are up to date.
Hailstorms and tornado activity generally reach their peak in April and May. However, in Texas, Louisiana and few other states, severe weather is already moving through communities and producing property damage. This time of year, violent wind storms, flooding, and large hail storms cause billions of dollars in property damage.
“The number of people affected by deadly and damaging storms this spring is quickly rising, which is why insurers urge you to take time now to get prepared,” said Christopher Hackett, PCI’s senior director of personal lines policy. “No matter where you live in the country it is important that you have a severe weather plan, emergency kit, NOAA weather radio, and other emergency supplies. It is equally important homeowners, renters, and business owners conduct a review of their insurance policies and discuss coverage options with their insurance agent or company to make sure they are adequately covered.”
Most tornado, windstorm, hail and similar severe weather-related losses are covered by either homeowners, renters, or commercial insurance policies. Tornado losses to a home are covered by the windstorm peril under the homeowners’ insurance policy. Renters insurance also provides coverage to policyholder possessions under this peril. Business owners are covered under their commercial policies. Protection from windstorm or hail damage for cars is covered under the comprehensive portion of the automobile insurance policy.
It's important to prepare for flooding as we approach the spring and summer months. Heavy rains and in some areas melting snow can quickly create dangerous flash floods. It is important for homeowners to know that flood insurance is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy. However, it is available as a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Consumers should also make sure to review their insurance policy, take a home inventory, and keep your insurer or agent’s number handy. If you have an insurance claim, there are several things you can do, such as photograph the damage and make an inventory of what was lost and damaged to help expedite the recovery process.
- Conduct a detailed inventory of your possessions including receipts, descriptions and photos of your home's contents.
- Keep your insurance policy and agent information along with other important information with you or in a secure place.
- Keep a cell phone charged and with you for emergencies.
- If you have one, keep a laptop computer close by. Most insurance companies allow claims reports to be submitted via the Internet.
- Understand your flood risk by determining if you live in a floodplain or if you’re in an area that has flooded previously – there’s a chance it will flood again.
- Make sure you have flood insurance.
- Be prepared to evacuate to higher ground if necessary. Listen for weather alerts or flood warnings and map out multiple evacuations routes.
PCI Flooding Tips Precautions:
- Review your property insurance policy, especially the “declarations” page, and check whether your policy pays replacement costs, or actual cash value for a covered loss.
- Inventory your household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. Keep this information and your insurance policies in a safe place.
- Keep the name, address, and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurer and agent in a safe and easily accessible place.
- 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.
- Keep all receipts for any repairs, so your insurance company can reimburse you.
- Check with your insurance adjuster for referrals to professional restoration, cleaning and salvage companies if additional assistance is needed.
- Make sure watercraft are stored in a secure area, like a garage or covered boat dock. A typical homeowner’s policy will cover property damage in limited instances for small watercraft, and separate boat policies will provide broader, more extensive property and liability protection for larger, faster boats, yachts, jet skis and wave runners. Additional information can be found on PCI Hurricane Headquarters or Flooding Headquarters.