South Carolina has been no stranger to serious hurricanes in recent years. Hurricane Matthew came in 2016, Florence in 2017 and Dorian in 2019.
As a very slow-moving storm, Florence brought two flooding events — one from the extreme rainfall and a second from the river drainage after the storm. The SC Emergency Management Division counted nearly 600 homes as either severely damaged or destroyed by the storm.
While officials in cities and towns should focus on planning for future storms, they should also focus on making sure that their own properties are adequately covered by insurance if a big storm were to hit the area after hurricane season begins June 1. The best way to do this is to maintain a complete list, or schedule, of assets needing insurance coverage.
"Checking over property schedules can help prevent a property from being valued incorrectly or prevent a city from discovering that a property was not covered only after a loss. Make sure that all assets, including newly built facilities or newly acquired assets, are added to the schedule," said Heather Ricard, director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Risk Management Services.
The SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, administered by the Municipal Association, provides appraisals at no charge to members about every five to seven years for buildings that have valuations at or above a certain amount. For coastal areas, which often have the greatest exposure to hurricane damage, these appraisals are available for all buildings valued at $10,000 or greater. For inland locations, the threshold is a $100,000 valuation. In between appraisals, values are trended to keep up with inflation.
Here are a few key issues to consider when checking on insurance coverage ahead of time:
Understand the amount of money that would be paid if a building were to be destroyed. Consider whether insurance would cover the building at replacement cost or on a basis of actual cash value. Coverage written on an actual cash value basis, such as for automobiles, would include a deduction for depreciation, which moves the potential payout lower over time even though the cost of replacement would not decline.
Know whether coverage includes a coinsurance provision, which requires cities to cover a certain percentage of the value of buildings and building contents. If a city does not insure the property for this minimum amount and experiences a loss, then the city would have to pay a coinsurance penalty amount before any deductibles are applied.
Know whether buildings are located inside high-hazard flood zones, which are any zones beginning with the letters A or V. The National Flood Insurance Program offers a maximum coverage of $500,000 for a building and $500,000 for contents. If a building is in a high-hazard area and is not insured to these amounts, then any claims payments may be a payout on top of the NFIP coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a Flood Map Service Center.
2020 Storm Names
The National Hurricane Center began formally naming hurricanes in 1950 to reduce confusion over storm identification. The system today uses a rotating series of six lists of names. The names of significant storms are retired afterward. Here are the 2020 names: