In recognition of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which runs March 6-12, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey urges families to prepare not only for hurricane season this summer but also the potential for extreme weather that may occur with little to no warning this spring.
In fact, North Carolina Emergency Management is preparing for severe weather Monday, March 7, which could bring high winds, heavy rain and localized flooding to the western part of the state. Much of the Charlotte metro area into the Triad region are under a slight risk for severe weather.
The annual statewide tornado drill will take place this Wednesday, March 9. Commissioner Causey urges residents to practice their emergency plan in case severe weather strikes the state.
“Your family should prepare now for possible extreme weather in the coming months,” said Commissioner Causey. “Not only should you have an emergency plan in place, but one of your top priorities should be to make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage for dangerous storms and flooding that could cause serious damage to your home or your property.”
In 2021, the National Weather Service issued 194 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 21 tornadoes. There were 109 flood incidents across the state. NWS also issued 1,114 severe thunderstorm warnings, recorded 101 large hail events, and 344 damaging thunderstorm wind events.
In the event of a tornado, Commissioner Causey recommends families use the following safety tips:
- Know the terms: “Watch” means a tornado is possible. “Warning” means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
- Go to the basement or storm shelter if you have one. Avoid areas where heavy objects (like a piano or refrigerator) are on the floor above you as they could fall through the floor and injure you.
- If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
Preparation before a storm is key. Residents should take inventory and document what they own. This will help insurance companies examine potential losses and assure proper coverage. In addition, individuals and families should have a storm-readiness plan in place. Families should discuss the plan so everyone knows how to respond once a storm hits.
Commissioner Causey offers the following insurance tips to help families prepare for severe weather:
- Most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not cover damage from floods, although most mobile homeowners’ and comprehensive auto policies do.
- A landlord’s insurance policy likely won’t cover damage to a renter’s personal property.
- The National Flood Insurance Program takes 30 days to take effect. Waiting to take out a flood policy once a storm or hurricane is in motion will be too late.
- Just because there’s no longer a mortgage on a home does not nullify the need for homeowners’ insurance.
Commissioner Causey has set up free flood insurance conferences across the state to educate the public on the need for flood insurance. Insurance agents, real estate agents, adjusters, engineers and architects can receive continuing education credits by attending one of these conferences.
For more information, contact the N.C. Department of Insurance by calling 1-855-408-1212.