Tropical Storm Danny is Latest Threat to Atlantic Seaboard States

Homeowners Need to Review Their Policy for Coverage Language

INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org
Washington Press Office: (202) 833-1580

NEW YORK, August 27, 2009—Tropical Storm Danny, expected to move northward up the Atlantic Coast near Florida on Friday, Aug. 28, and reach Maine on Sunday, Aug. 30, is a reminder of the entire East Coast’s vulnerability to storms, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“East Coast residents, besides those living along Florida’s Atlantic coast, have been spared from severe hurricanes in recent years, but storms such as Danny offer a stark reminder of the potent threat hurricanes can pose to some of the nation’s most densely populated states,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president, Public Affairs, and national consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “And increased residential development along the Atlantic seaboard has put more and more homes at risk of severe windstorm damage.”

While exposure to windstorms and high property values combine to make Florida the state with the highest potential for property losses, New York State, because of Long Island, is second highest, risk modeling companies have found. A 2007 study by AIR Worldwide put the value of residential and commercial coastal property in Florida at almost $2.46 trillion. This represented 79 percent of Florida’s total insured property values. In New York that number was $2.38 trillion, representing 62 percent of the statewide total. Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts were other East Coast states where insured coastal property values exceeded 50 percent of the state’s total insured property values.

Special hurricane deductibles were established to make insurance coverage more available and affordable in high-risk areas without pushing those costs on to people living in lower-risk areas. These deductibles usually are expressed as a percentage of the home’s insured value, typically varying from 1 to 5 percent. So, if a house is insured for $200,000 and has a 3 percent hurricane deductible, the first $6,000 of a claim arising out of a named storm, the traditional “trigger” for the deductibles to take effect, must be paid out of the policyholder’s pocket.
 

The 18 states that have hurricane deductibles are: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The District of Columbia has them, too.

In addition, the I.I.I. recommends the following three steps to prepare for a hurricane or other disaster:
  1. Review your insurance coverage
    Speak to your agent or company representative to make sure you have the right type and amount of insurance coverage. You need enough insurance to rebuild your home and to replace all of your personal belongings. If you have made a major alteration or improvement to your home or have made significant purchases, notify your insurance agent so that the increased value is reflected in your policy.

    Make sure you understand your deductibles. Most coastal residents have specific percentage deductibles for windstorm damage, rather than the traditional dollar deductibles that are used for other types of losses such as fire or burglary.

    Ask about flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered under most standard home insurance policies. However, flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and some private insurance companies. It can generally be purchased from the same agent or broker who provides your homeowners or renters insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found by going to the FloodSmart.gov Web site or calling 888-379-9531. Should you need coverage over and above the $250,000 for property and $100,000 for contents provided by the NFIP, excess flood insurance is also available from private insurance companies.

  1. Create a home inventory
    A home inventory will help ensure that you have purchased enough insurance to replace your personal possessions. It can also speed the claims process and substantiate losses for income tax purposes. A detailed home inventory is also helpful should you need to apply for disaster aid.

    To make creating a home inventory easier, the I.I.I. provides free Web-based software at KnowYourStuff.org. Know Your Stuff allows you to organize and list your possessions, as well as add digital photographs of your valuables and upload scanned receipts. The program provides free, secure storage of your inventory on Amazon Web Services. Storing your inventory online gives you the ability to access it from any computer in the event your own computer is damaged or destroyed.

  1. Protect your property
    Keeping wind and water out is critical to the survival of your home. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a house is most vulnerable to high winds when the building’s "envelope" is not sealed by approved forms of opening protection. Installing storm shutters or reinforced garage doors can add an important layer of protection. In addition, homeowners should secure loose roof shingles, seal openings, cracks and holes, and strengthen the more vulnerable parts of their property, such as arches, overhangs and beams. Keep in mind that unsecured building materials or trash from partially completed homes, could become airborne missiles impacting nearby buildings. For more information on protecting your home, go to the IBHS Web site
For more information about insurance, go to the I.I.I. Web site.

For more information about protecting your property from natural disasters and other hazards, go to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH).

 

The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

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