Virgin Islands residents need to be prepared for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which is June 1 to Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above-normal season, with 11 to 17 named storms, including two to four major hurricanes, according to a press release issued by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
“We want you to be prepared in the event of a hurricane or other disaster by having adequate homeowners and flood insurance. Be prepared for the hurricane season by being insured,” said Lt. Gov. Osbert E. Potter, who also serves as the territory’s commissioner of insurance.
Property owners are advised to review their insurance policies annually and contact their agent or the Division of Banking, Insurance & Financial Regulation if their property insurance needs to be changed or if they have questions. Potter advises residents of the following as they prepare for the hurricane season:
You cannot buy a homeowner’s insurance policy once a storm has been declared.
Always buy replacement cost coverage, which means buy enough insurance to rebuild the home and replace all personal belongings.
If renting, buy renter’s insurance to cover your contents in the building.
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.
Make sure you have a homeowner’s insurance policy and a separate flood insurance policy. A homeowner’s insurance policy does not provide flood protection.
Keep your insurance policy and other important documents in safe waterproof and fireproof containers.
Know what is insured: inventory personal property and take photographs of your home.
Have disaster supplies on hand and secure important documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, wills and testaments, licenses, etc.)
Protect your property by putting up shutters, cutting back tree limbs and clearing debris.
“Be an informed consumer. Make sure you are fully covered. We asked insurance companies to voluntarily lower their rates; therefore, shop around because there is affordable homeowner’s insurance in the market,” said Potter.
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit www.ltg.gov.vi or contact Division of Banking, Insurance & Financial Regulation on St. Thomas at 774-7166 or on St. Croix at 773-6459.