Insurance agents are urging clients to take preventative steps and review their policies before Hurricane Florence's expected landfall.
"On a standard North Carolina home insurance policy, flood is not covered," explained Joe Aiello, an agent with Riddick Insurance Group.
Aiello said he's been fielding calls over the past couple days with hurricane-related questions, and is hoping more people reach out as soon as possible.
In a statement, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America offered a list of tips for people to take now:
- 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 boat, yachts, jet skis and wave runners. Additional information can be found on PCI's Hurricane Headquarters page.
"Take a 360 of every room, so you can take inventory of what you had. As well as an inventory of big-ticket items, if you have any receipts," Aiello said.
As far as changing coverage options to add protection, that's likely not possible in time for Hurricane Florence.
"Most carriers are going to have a binding restriction for changing your deductible, or adding coverage, things like that," said Aiello.
He suggested that in the event of power outages, people should print their policies out.
"Put all your valuable papers - the title to your home, the title to your car, your insurance policy, your driver's license, passport, any documents that are important, passport - put it in a Ziploc bag and ready to run if you evacuate," noted Attorney General Josh Stein.
Preventative measures such as boarding up windows or purchasing sandbags to place in front of doors will likely not be reimbursed.
While homeowners and renters can take preventative measures prior to a storm, some damages, like a tree falling on a home or property, can be difficult to stop.
But who would be liable should a tree fall onto a different property?
"In the event that the tree is just naturally blown down because of the ground being soft and the winds being high, it's the policy-holder being damaged that's responsible for that damage," Aiello said, though he noted certain circumstances such as if the tree was dead and should have been removed prior to the storm, could change the outcome.