Just a few days into 2009’s hurricane season, forecasters are predicting what they call a “moderate” year. But homeowners are being urged to check their coverage carefully.
After last year’s intense season, which spawned 16 named storms including Gustav and Ike, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is looking for calmer weather in 2009. Officials there predict a 70% possibility of between 9 and 14 named storms. Last year insurers paid out $26bn dollars on catastrophic losses, and customers are feeling the effects - premiums are up about 3% nationwide on average this year, and much more in hurricane prone regions. And many homeowners are seeing their insurance options shrink, as companies continue to pull out of high risk areas. Sean Broderick of Weiss Research says some states are attempting to force companies to continue coverage.
“I certainly wish the states all the luck in the world, but if an insurer really wants to pull out of your state, I don’t see what you’re going to do. Then they’ll have to go to the big insurance pools, which are run by the states, and if we have a couple more large insurers pull out of here in Florida, pretty much that’s going to be the big insurer.”
Connecticut’s insurance department has launched a campaign called PREPARE, urging homeowners to read their policies carefully, to make sure their needs are met, and to create a detailed home inventory in case of a claim. The department is also urging more homeowners to buy flood insurance – less than 25% of properties at high risk of flooding in the state have coverage.