Everyone is subject to severe weather damage! No matter where you live, you are subject to the effects of severe weather such as hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail storms, and floods. All South Carolina policyholders should be prepared for hurricane season and these events.
- Make sure your home and property are covered.
Check with your insurance agent to see what type of damage your homeowners (or renters) policy covers. Review your property insurance policy, especially the "declarations" page, and check whether your policy pays replacement cost, or actual cash value for a covered loss.
- Shop ahead of time.
It is a good idea for people to buy flood insurance. Flooding is not covered in your standard homeowners insurance policy. It may be purchased through many insurance agents as part of the National Flood Insurance Program. Keep in mind that inland flooding can occur as far as 500 miles from the site of a hurricane. There is a 30-day waiting period to get flood insurance, so it is important to act before floodwaters start to rise.
- Make a record of your personal property.
Inventory your household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. This information will be helpful to your adjuster in the case of a claim. Keep this information and your insurance policies in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.
- Protect your insurance policies and other important documents.
Be sure to keep copies of your policy and a record of your household items in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box. Keep the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurer and agent in a safe and easily accessible place.
- Plan for the worst
Make a plan of action in case a storm hits. Designate two meeting places for your family: a location in your home in case of flash flooding or other immediate disaster and a location outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home.
- Make emergency arrangements for your pets.
Most shelters will not take pets. You should call your veterinarian or local Humane Society to find out where you can take your pets in case of an evacuation.
- Make sure you have the "must-have" supplies.
- Remain calm and patient.
Listen to your battery-powered radio for news and instructions
Check for damage and help salvage property and minimize further damage after the storm:
- First and foremost, if holes have been torn in your roof or your windows are broken, be sure to cover them as quickly as possible so that wind and rain does not cause further damage. Only make temporary repairs as this is a condition of your policy.
- Keep all receipts for anything you buy for that purpose so you can submit them to your insurance company later.
- Report all damage to your insurance company as soon as you can in order to settle your claim more quickly and accurately. A list of insurance company claim phone and fax numbers are provided below. If your company is not listed, you should contact your agent.
Insurance Company Claim Phone and Fax Numbers
- Make a list of damaged items. If possible, put together a set of records, such as receipts, bills and photographs, to establish the age of everything that needs to be replaced or repaired.
- Identify the structural damage to your home and make a list of everything you would like to show the adjuster.
- Don't throw out damaged furniture or other expensive items. The adjuster will want to see them. It also is a good idea to take photographs of the damage before you start cleaning it up.
- Call the insurance company or agent who sold you your policy as soon as possible.
Call your agent or insurance company’s claims hotline and file your claim as soon as possible. Remember to have your policy number and other relevant information readily available. Your policy might require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
- Work with the adjuster.
The adjuster should call you as soon as possible to come and inspect the damage to your property but be patient. The cases with the most serious damage will be handled first. Ask for identification from the adjuster as unscrupulous repairmen often try to take advantage of people who have suffered storm losses.
- If the hurricane caused flooding in your home, there are certain things you can do to minimize the damage:
- Shovel or scrape the mud off your floors, furniture and walls before the mud dries. Then hose down the walls with clean water, starting from the ceiling.
- Major appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, can be washed and dried completely. In most cases, they will not be damaged unless they were operating at the time the water covered them.
- Diluted chlorine bleach can be used to clean household items, appliances, walls and floors. This also will help control odors.
- Wood furniture should be dried outdoors, but not in direct sunlight. Remove drawers and other moving parts before they dry.
- A flooded basement should be pumped gradually to prevent structural damage. Pump out about a third of the water per day.
- Food utensils and equipment should be washed thoroughly and sterilized before you use them. Any food that is open and exposed to flood waters should be discarded.
- Use public water only after it has been declared safe by an authorized official.
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South Carolina Hurricane Guide [pdf 1047K]
What You Need to Know About Insurance Before Disaster Strikes [pdf 53k]
Home Inventory Checklist [pdf 516k]
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- Bottled Water
Store at least one gallon of water per person per day. You should get a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.
Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food items. Select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation, no cooking and little or not water. Also, make sure the items are compact and lightweight. A manual can opener and ice chest are also important to have available.
- First Aid Kit
Assemble first aid kits for your home and car that include sterile bandages and pads, scissors and sewing kit, soap, antiseptic, and nonprescription drugs
- Tools and Supplies
Make sure you have a flashlight and battery operated radio with extra batteries, cash or travelers checks with change, and sanitation items like personal hygiene supplies and disinfectant. Basic tools such as a hammer, a screwdriver, nails and screws are also important to have available.
- Clothing and Bedding
Pack at least one complete change of clothing and sturdy footwear per person. Include blankets and sleeping bags for bedding.
- Special Items
Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons. Remember to pack any special diet foods and pet foods, as well as any prescription medication.
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An announcement for specific coastal areas that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.
A warning that sustained winds 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or higher associated with a hurricane are expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
This is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm by definition is a thunderstorm that produces 3/4 inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review severe thunderstorm safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail 3/4 inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.
An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide.
This is when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.
This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.
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||38 mph or less|
||156 mph or more|
Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale
||Some damage to chimneys; breaks branches off trees; pushes over shallow-rooted trees; damages sign boards.|
||The lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.|
||Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated. |
||Roof and some walls torn off well constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in fores uprooted.|
||Well-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak foundations blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.|
||Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures badly damaged.|
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SC Emergency Management Division
The SC Emergency Preparedness Office provides information about South Carolina Emergency Operations Plan, Hurricane Plan, Earthquake Plan and selected other natural hazard plans.
SC Fraud Division
Under South Carolina law, you must report insurance fraud if you have reason to believe someone has committed this crime. If you suspect someone has committed any type of insurance fraud, contact the SC Attorney General's Office - Division of Insurance Fraud.
SC Highway Patrol
The mission of the South Carolina Highway Patrol is to provide equitable service and protection, uphold the laws of the constitutions of the United States and the State of South Carolina in order to promote a safe and secure environment for the public.
SC Wind and Hail Joint Underwriting Association
The SC Wind and Hail Joint Underwriting Association (SCWHUA) is the residual property insurance market in South Carolina. It provides coverage for the perils of wind and hail in the coastal areas of the state designated by the Legislature as "Beach."
Ready Campaign - US Department of Homeland Security
Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed
National Hurricane Center
The mission of the National Hurricane Center is to save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather, and by increasing understanding of these hazards.
National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
The primary mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters; and, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.
American Red Cross Chapters:
Aiken County Chapter, Aiken
Palmetto Chapter, Bluffton
Carolina Lowcountry Chapter, North Charleston
American Red Cross of Central South Carolina, Columbia
Upstate South Carolina Chapter, Greenville
Pee Dee Chapter, Florence
Coastal South Carolina Chapter, Myrtle Beach
Oconee County Chapter, Walhalla
Greater Edisto Chapter, Orangeburg
Piedmont Chapter, Spartanburg
York County Chapter, Rock Hill
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Toll-Free: 800-768-3467 (Accessible only in SC)
Emergency Adjuster Appointments
Mary Ann O'Brien, Licensing Manager
Emergency Adjuster Permits
Ann Roberson, Emergency Coordinator
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