State insurance commissioner reflects on last hurricane season, urges proper preparation in 2019

Updated: Jun. 13, 2019 at 3:41 PM EDT
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Meterologists can usually give people a fairly accurate idea of when a hurricane will make landfall and how much of a punch the storm will pack once it does.

Using the time between forecast and direct impact wisely could make a big difference.

During an official visit to Wrighstville Beach on Thursday, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal Mike Causey urged southeastern NC residents to take steps before storms are even named.

"If you wait until the weather station says there's a named storm coming — Hurricane Barry's coming or whatever — it's too late," said Causey, who received an award from the NC Manufactured and Modular Homebuilders Association during its annual gathering at the Holiday Inn Sunspree.

Another form of preparation that many ignore is getting flood insurance. Causey said he learned through discussions with FEMA last year after Hurricane Florence that less than 135,000 people in North Carolina — out of a population of 10.5 million — had flood policies.

"That tells me that 98 percent of the homeowners in this state do not have flood insurance, and that's a problem," Causey said.

With another hurricane season upon us, Causey recalled people scrambling to find water that wasn't on grocery store shelves the day Hurricane Matthew hit NC in 2016.

Stocking up on food, water and supplies can help eliminate some of the panic people feel during a hurricane, Causey said, but in the bigger picture, securing a flood insurance policy might be even more important.

"A $100,000 flood insurance policy in a normal area is less than $400 a year," the commissioner said. "Depending on the area and if you're in the flood zone or not — there's some variations on the pricing — you have to weigh the choices. Would you rather spend $385 a year on a flood insurance policy or have to pay $100,000 out of your pocket in case of a loss?"

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