Lt. Gov. Tregenza A. Roach Esq., who also serves as the territory’s Commissioner of Insurance, encourages Virgin Islanders to be prepared for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30.
“In the midst of facing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that Virgin Islands residents start to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. Now more than ever, as uncertainties from the virus impact the territory, we must all be resourceful in our preparation efforts. The increased economic challenges brought on by the coronavirus may make it difficult for residents to fully put in place the necessary insurance protections, but these types of coverage are essential for your home and most valued possessions,” said the lieutenant governor.
The Office of the Lieutenant Governor’s Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation has information readily available to ensure that residents are adequately informed on hurricane preparedness tips, facts on insurance policies, and coverage requirements.
“Everyone should protect their home by buying homeowners’ insurance. It is important to review the insurance policy annually and contact your agent directly to discuss any need for additional coverage. Be sure to buy homeowners’ insurance whether you have a mortgage or own your home,” said Roach.
He advises property owners to take the following actions to be prepared for the hurricane season:
Avoid being underinsured by purchasing at least 80 percent of the replacement cost value of a residential property. Get residential property appraised and make sure the appraisal includes replacement cost value. Then, purchase homeowner’s insurance at the replacement cost value, which is the cost of replacing your property without a reduction for depreciation.
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.
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.
If renting, buy renter’s insurance to cover the contents in the building.
Understand that people do not have a separate policy if they own a condominium. The policy belongs to the condominium association as a whole and is subject to a decision by its board of directors. People can purchase a separate contents insurance policy as a condominium owner.
Keep the insurance policy and other important documents in safe, dry, waterproof and fireproof containers.
Have disaster supplies on hand and secure important documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, will and testaments, licenses, etc.)
Protect property by putting up shutters, cutting back tree limbs and clearing debris.
Visit www.ltg.gov.vi and download the “Home Inventory Checklist.” Complete the checklist and take photos of the contents before a storm occurs. Know what is insured and what is not insured.
An owner cannot buy a homeowner’s insurance policy once a storm has been declared.
Know what to do after disaster strikes. Secure the property; take photos; make a list of the damages; file a claim as soon as possible; get an estimate of the damages; be ready to have the 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 percent 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 www.ltg.gov.vi, or contact the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation on St. Thomas at 774-2991 or on St. Croix at 773-6449.