As we learned with Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Georgia residents can be dramatically affected by storms that don’t make direct landfall along our coast. That storm, which came ashore in Alabama, resulted in a disaster declaration for 18 Georgia counties stretching from the southwest to northwest corner of the state, including several in metro Atlanta. With the June 1 start of hurricane season just a few weeks away, we asked Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens to share some tips for making sure you’re sufficiently insured against potential hurricane damage.
Don’t underestimate the importance of getting prepared during Hurricane Preparedness Week, because when hurricanes hit Georgia, a large portion of the state is affected. While coastal residents face the most danger if a tropical storm or hurricane strikes, even residents who live further inland face the possibility of strong winds, heavy rain and inland flooding. For property owners, preparation includes scheduling an insurance checkup with your agent to be sure you have adequate homeowners or renters coverage.
To protect your property from the financial impact of destructive storms an insurance policy tailored to your needs is your best option no matter where you live. One factor you’ll want to consider is whether you prefer actual cash value coverage or replacement cost coverage. With actual cash value, you will receive only the current value of an item when you file a claim. In other words, you’ll get only “used” prices for items such as your furniture or TV. With replacement cost coverage, your claim amount will be enough to purchase new items.
Once you’ve locked in your insurance, make a list of your covered items, such as furniture, electronics and other valuables. An electronic record is also a good idea. Keep copies of the list or photos in a safe place outside your home, such as a safe deposit box or online using a Cloud service. An accurate record of your possessions will be invaluable if you need to file a claim with your insurance company.
Flood insurance coverage for your home or business is available for up to $250,000 from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can purchase NFIP flood insurance directly from any state-licensed property and casualty insurance agent or insurance company. At that time, your insurance agent can confirm whether flood insurance is available to you and what it would cost.
Anyone with insurance questions can visit the Department of Insurance online at www.oci.ga.gov or call us toll free at 1-800-656-2298. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner