(WFXR) – Spring means the start of severe weather season in Virginia. Tornadoes, wind, floods and hail become likely in the weeks and months ahead but what you can you do now to prepare?

With that in mind, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) encourages Virginians to plan now for potentially severe spring weather.

The Bureau is urging Virginians to plan for severe weather before it occurs by considering the following:

  • Understand what your insurance policy does and does not cover, as well as any deductibles you may have to pay when filing a claim.
  • Create a detailed inventory of your belongings, including serial numbers, photos, videos and receipts. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) free smartphone app, which can be downloaded here, can facilitate this process. Keep electronic copies of your homeowners, auto and other insurance policies with your home inventory and, if possible, store paper files in a safe, fireproof and waterproof place. Take these documents with you if you must evacuate the premises. These records will contain your policy numbers and the phone numbers of your insurance companies in case you have questions or need to file a claim.
  • Keep in mind that homeowners and renters insurance policies issued in Virginia typically do not cover damage from floods, surface water or storm surge. The federal government, however, does sell insurance for direct flood and flood-related damage to homeowners, renters and businesses in eligible communities through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There is typically a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. To learn more, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or click here.

On Tuesday, March 16, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will host a #FloodAwarenessChat on Twitter between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. That chat will explore flood risk and flood insurance and will also feature a Q&A session. The chat coincides with Virginia Flood Awareness Week (March 14-20, 2021). To learn more about Flood Awareness Week, click here.

The SCC urges Virginians to take steps now to reduce the possibility of weather-related damage later. Assess your risk and, if needed, clear your yard and gutters of debris, trim dead or overhanging tree branches that surround your home; reinforce your roof; install impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters; install flood vents in foundation walls; raise mechanical and electrical systems inside and out such as furnaces, electrical panels, water heaters and HVAC systems; install a backflow valve in your sewer system; waterproof exterior walls and basements and direct stormwater away from your home.

The Bureau also encourages Virginians to know what to do if their property is damaged from severe weather which includes contacting your insurance company as soon as possible; make any necessary emergency repairs; take reasonable steps to prevent further damage to your property and record all damage to your property with photographs and videos and take detailed notes.

The Bureau also offers free consumer guides for homeowners and commercial property owners with information about what to do if a disaster impacts you. To view these guides, click here or call the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau’s Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560.

For additional information about emergency preparedness in all types of disasters, click here and scroll to the “Prepare” section at the top of the page.