As Commissioner of Insurance, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza A. Roach, Esq. urges Virgin Islands residents to be prepared for the peak of the hurricane season. “As we approach September, the most active month of the hurricane season for the Virgin Islands, I encourage residents to stay vigilant and not delay preparations,” said Lt. Governor Roach.
“Currently, we are monitoring the movement of Tropical Storm Dorian. Although there are no watches or warnings in effect for the Virgin Islands following the Tuesday morning advisory, there are actions that should be taken to protect your home and family,” said Lieutenant Governor Roach.
“Whether you have a mortgage or own your home, homeowners should have insurance and understand what is covered by the policy. An annual review of the policy is important. Be sure to contact your insurance agent directly to discuss any need for additional coverage,” said Lieutenant Governor Roach.
In order to be prepared before a hurricane, the following actions should be taken by property owners:
- Avoid being underinsured by purchasing at least 80% of the replacement cost value of your residential property. Get your residential property appraised and make sure the appraisal includes Replacement Cost Value. Then, purchase your homeowner’s insurance at Replacement Cost Value, which is the cost of replacing your property without a reduction for depreciation.
- Remember that homeowner’s insurance cannot generally be purchased once a storm is named.
- Avoid being force-placed because forced-placement covers only the mortgage balance. Have the insurance premium escrowed along with your mortgage and property tax payment or use premium financing.
- If renting, buy renter’s insurance to cover your contents in the building.
- Protect your property by putting up shutters, cutting back tree limbs and clearing debris.
- Remember, you must buy a separate homeowners/windstorm policy and a separate flood insurance policy. A homeowner’s policy does not provide coverage for flooding that comes with a hurricane. Do know that a flood insurance policy does not take effect until 30 days after it is purchased.
- Understand that you do not have a separate policy if you own a condominium. The policy belongs to the condominium association as a whole and is subject to a decision by its Board of Directors. You can purchase a separate contents insurance policy as a condominium owner.
- Keep your insurance policy and other important documents (e.g., insurance policies, birth certificates, passport, will and testaments, licenses, etc.) in safe, dry and secure waterproof and fireproof containers.
- Visit ltg.gov.vi and download the “Home Inventory Checklist”. Complete the checklist and take photos of your home’s contents before a storm occurs. Know what is insured and what is not insured. Read other hurricane preparedness materials on the website.
- Have an adequate amount of cash stored in a safe area in your home, in the event communication and transportation systems are damaged by a storm.
- Have disaster supplies on hand (e.g., water, dry food items, prescription drugs, bandages, flashlights, batteries).
- Know what to do after a disaster strikes. Secure your property; take photos; make a list of your damages; file a claim as soon as possible; get an estimate of your damages; be ready to have your claim adjusted; receive a claim settlement.
- Public adjusters are also licensed by the Commissioner of Insurance. A public adjuster may not charge a fee that exceeds 5% of the insurance proceeds recovered on behalf of the homeowner or residential insured.
For more information on disaster preparedness and the responsibilities of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, visit ltg.gov.vi., or contact the Division of Banking, Insurance & Financial Regulation on St. Thomas in Nisky Center, 2nd Floor at 340-774-7166 and on St. Croix at 1131 King Street at 340-773-6459.