HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Fifty years after Hurricane Agnes, Pennsylvania Acting Insurance Commissioner, Michael Humphreys, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director, Randy Padfield, urged property owners to prepare for the hurricane season.

The damaging effects of hurricanes can present themselves and be most commonly seen throughout the summer and fall months. Pennsylvanians are urged to consider methods of protection, such as looking into flood insurance to protect their homes, businesses, and possessions.

“There are far too few homes insured for flood in the Commonwealth. In a state with nearly 3.1 million insured homes, fewer than 50,000 are covered for flood,” Humphreys continued. “After every storm that includes an element of flooding, we hear devastating stories from residents that thought they were covered for flood through their homeowners’ insurance policy. That is generally not the case. We strongly encourage insurance agents to highlight the availability of flood coverage when meeting with clients to discuss new or renewal coverage. And because where it rains, it can flood, we also urge homeowners and renters to ask their insurance agents and insurance companies about flood coverage.”

If you are interested in flood insurance, it is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the rapidly growing private market, regardless of if you live near a designated flood zone. Homeowners that live in federally designated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are most likely required to have flood insurance by their mortgage lenders. If you are looking for a new home or property, it is important that you research the area to see if there has been any previous flooding.

“Flood insurance is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from the financial devastation that flooding can bring,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “Knowing that you have that financial protection can bring a degree of peace of mind during your recovery from flooding, which can happen anywhere, whether or not there’s a history of flooding in your neighborhood.”

It is important to keep in mind that flood insurance policies aren’t immediately active and in most scenarios, there tends to be a 30-day waiting period. This prevents consumers from buying flood insurance just because a storm is headed towards their property.

If you, unfortunately, find yourself having to pick up the pieces after a hurricane, the Insurance Department provides tips and resources to help you file insurance claims and avoid repair scams.

The After the Storm brochure, found online at insurance.pa.gov, includes tips such as:

  • Contact the insurance company as soon as possible after the storm
  • Save your receipts
  • Take photos and videos before you clean or make repairs
  • After documenting the damage, make repairs to prevent further damage or to live in the home, but don’t make permanent repairs before the insurance company inspects the damage and approves the repairs
  • If possible, determine what the cost will be to repair the property before you meet with an insurance company representative who will assess the damage (if there is a disagreement on the offer made, you should be prepared to negotiate)

More information on the NFIP and private flood insurance is available on the Insurance Department’s one-stop Flood Insurance page, and more information on guidance following a severe weather event can be found on the Department’s After the Storm and Disaster Recovery resources pages. Consumers with questions or wishing to file a complaint can contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau, or by calling 1-877-881-6388.