Insurance Coverage on Damaged Properties Needs to Be Renewed

Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter (Jamie Leonard photo)
Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter (Jamie Leonard photo)

Lt. Gov. Osbert E. Potter, who also serves as Commissioner of Insurance, advises the public about the renewal of insurance coverage on residential properties where a claim settlement from Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria has already been paid, but the homeowner has been unable to complete repairs on the property.

Potter said, “When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, not every residential property owner had insurance. Although we are now in the 2018 hurricane season, I encourage all residential property owners who did not have insurance to now obtain homeowners insurance.”

All residential property owners who had insurance and have received a settlement check, but are still waiting for repairs to their home to be completed by a licensed contractor, are advised of the following:

Contact your insurance agent or insurance company to discuss available options for the renewal of your insurance policy. Your insurance company will review each application for renewal on damaged property. Whether your property was damaged by the two recent hurricanes or not, you should renew your policy at replacement cost value, using the total number of square feet times the dollar value, to avoid being underinsured.

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If you were told you were underinsured based upon your recent hurricane-related claim, you can also use the adjuster’s worksheet to learn how much coverage you should purchase.

At the time of renewal, your insurance agent or insurance company is responsible for providing you a “Notice of Conditions of Underinsurance” for the sole purpose of educating you on the conditions that may cause you to be underinsured. Make sure you understand this notice by speaking with your insurance agent or insurance company, or the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation; then sign the notice and return it with your renewal application.

Builders Risk Insurance might be an option. If you qualify for Builders Risk Insurance, you must buy it, too, at replacement cost value. But, you cannot live in your residential property if you buy builders risk insurance. Builders risk insurance does not cover contents or loss of use.

Your insurance company has a record of what damages were covered and paid for under your 2017 hurricane-related insurance claim in the event there is a hurricane in 2018 and you receive new damages. As a policyholder, you are to take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage and to make necessary repairs. Your insurance company will not pay for the same damages twice.

Take photos of the current condition of your damaged home in the event the U.S. Virgin Islands is impacted by a hurricane during the 2018 hurricane season. This will avoid confusion, and it will be able to separate damages to your home caused by the 2017 hurricanes. Also, take photos of the repairs you have been able to make to your damaged home. Evidence of the level of progress in repairs is important.

Save all receipts for materials and other items you or your contractor purchased for the repairs for damages to your home caused by hurricanes Irma or Maria.

After you complete all of your repairs, get an appraisal for insurance purposes only — one that provides replacement cost value.

“Always discuss your homeowners insurance needs in detail with your insurance agent or insurance company. If you still have questions afterward, contact our office in either district,” Potter said.

The Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation can be reached on St. Croix at 1131 King Street, 3rd Floor in Christiansted at (773-6459). It can be reached on St. Thomas at Nisky Center, 2nd Floor, (774-7166). The public is also encouraged to visit the Division’s website at http://ltg.gov.vi/ to obtain copies of the its educational brochures.

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