Hurricane Florence, still a dangerous Category 4 storm, is threatening to strike the Carolinas and Virginia on late Thursday, with warnings of life-threatening storm surges, destructive winds estimated at 130 mph, massive inland rainfall, and flooding. Weather forecasters are warning that Florence could be one of the strongest strikes on record for this area of the East Coast.
Three states lie in its path for a direct hit: North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. CoreLogic, a real estate data firm, estimates that 758,657 homes could be under threat with potentially $170.2 billion in storm surge damages.
The table below from CoreLogic shows the number of properties at risk of the storm surge for each of the five hurricane categories.
It is likely too late for homeowners in Florence’s path to make insurance changes, but housing experts are urging homeowners in other hurricane-prone areas to check up on their insurance coverage now. The Atlantic’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Last year’s three storms—Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria—caused $265 billion in damages, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
“Most people fail to read their [homeowners] insurance contract to understand what’s covered and what’s not, and then they’re surprised after an event when they discover they didn’t have the coverage,” Lynne McChristian, a consultant to the Insurance Information Institute, told CNBC.
Insurance experts advise ways to prepare: homeowners in hurricane-prone areas can make sure they have coverage through the federal National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer for flood insurance; check deductibles; check renters’ insurance if applicable to cover their belongings; and safeguard documents (keep all insurance policies, title to your car, birth certificate, and so on in a fire- and flood-proof lockbox or a safe deposit box at a bank).