DOBI Reminds Consumers And
Insurers To Prepare For
2016 Hurricane Season
Commissioner reminds consumers that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage
TRENTON, NJ — As the 2016 hurricane season begins, New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Richard J. Badolato offered State residents some general guidelines, including considering the purchase of flood insurance, to protect their property and families in the event of severe weather. The Commissioner also issued a bulletin to insurers asking them to review and prepare their catastrophe response plans in the event a major storm or other disaster strikes New Jersey.
“I urge all New Jersey residents, particularly those living in coastal areas, to be prepared for flooding or other severe weather this season,” said Commissioner Badolato. “Likewise, we are also instructing our licensed insurance carriers to be prepared to activate their disaster response plans quickly should they need them.”
Commissioner Badolato offered the following suggestions to all New Jersey residents:
Consider Purchasing Flood Insurance
- Flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowners or renters policy, and must be purchased separately. Homeowners and renters can purchase a flood insurance policy directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal program which is the primary provider of flood insurance, or directly through their insurance carrier or broker.
- Consumers should also be aware that flood insurance is not effective until 30 days after it is bought. Therefore, consumers who decide to purchase flood insurance should contact an approved flood insurance policy agent immediately and not wait for another approaching storm.
- For more about flood insurance, go to: www.floodsmart.gov.
Complete a Home Inventory
- Make a complete list of all the belongings in your home. Having a home inventory makes it far easier for consumers to file an insurance claim in the event they suffer property damage.
- The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a smart phone application, MyHOME Scr.APP.book, that can capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers of consumers’ possessions. It also organizes information room by room and creates a back-up file for email sharing. This application is available to iPhone and Android users.
- For non-smartphone users, a sample inventory checklist is available on the NAIC’s Web site:http://www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_checklist.pdf
- Photograph or video tape each item and document a brief description that includes age, approximate value and purchase price.
- Group your possessions into logical categories, such as type or room.
- Gather copies of original sales receipts or appraisal documents. Note model and serial numbers where applicable.
- Share a copy of your home inventory with a trusted friend or relative and your insurance carrier or broker.
- Once the inventory is finished, homeowners should store it on a mobile phone, offsite computer or keep hard copies, including photographs, in a safe deposit box or waterproof, fireproof box or safe.
Collect your Insurance Information
- Homeowners should gather all of their insurance documents in one safe place, along with their home inventory.
- Verify 24-hour contact details for your insurance agent and carrier. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, insurance company and agent’s phone numbers, Web site and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if your carrier has set up an emergency information hotline. Keep this information with your policies and home inventory.
- Before a storm hits, review policies and make sure you understand the coverage you have. Call your agent or carrier with any questions.
Get Ready Now
- Make sure storm shutters, if applicable, can be quickly installed or used.
- Keep the yard free of debris and clutter that could become projectiles in high winds.
- Trim dead or overhanging branches from trees near the house.
- Make sure that roof sheathing is secured, end gables are fastened to the roof and doors latch properly.
- Make an evacuation plan for the family. Identify the nearest storm shelter.
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes survival supplies, such as bottled water, first aid items, flashlights, a battery operated radio, three days of non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and enough cash for at least three days.
- If ordered to leave home, consumers should follow their evacuation plans and depart as soon as possible.
- Before vacating their homes, they should turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electric shock when utilities are restored.
- Evacuees should plan more than one evacuation route in case the preferred one is closed due to an emergency.
Commissioner Badolato issued a bulletin asking homeowners insurers licensed and issuing policies in New Jersey to review their catastrophe response plans to make sure they are updated and ready for activation should it become necessary.
Such actions occur when the potential for widespread property damage in the state due to a storm forecast occurs. Depending on the severity of the conditions, such obligations include marshaling all appropriate resources to secure operations and provide timely assistance to insureds, suspending the cancellation and nonrenewal of policies for reasons related to the occurrence of the disaster and utilizing an expedited and simplified claims process.
To view the bulletin, go here: http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/bulletins/blt16_06.pdf
For more Information
Go to the Department’s Web site at: http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/hurricane.htm
For more information about hurricane preparedness in New Jersey: http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/plan/hurricanes.html
For more from the National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/