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HAMPTON ROADS -- If you don't have insurance to protect your property from Hurricane Irene, it's too late to get it now.

Most policies don't take effect until 30 days after your purchase. But if you have insurance, you can cut down on the confusion after the storm if you know exactly what policy covers what damage.

State Farm agent Sam Compton says most people in Hampton Roads know now that you have to have flood insurance in order for your home to be covered in cases of high water. Here's what Compton says residents need to know:

* A homeowners' policy doesn't cover flood damage UNLESS the water comes into your home because of a damaged roof or broken window from the storm.

* Renters also need flood insurance. A renters insurance policy by itself won't cover damage in case of a flood. If the rental dwelling is damaged, then the owner is responsible for the repairs but that does not include repairing your contents.

*If a tree from your neighbor's yard damages your home, it's your homeowners' policy that covers the damages

*If a tree damages your car, the comprehensive portion of your car insurance covers the damages

*Insurance adjusters will always handle the most severe damage cases first

Compton recommends that residents gather their important insurance documents now and put them in a plastic bag. Organization will aid you in getting help faster. Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia have the following recommendations:

  1. If there's damage, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
  2. Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
  3. Prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property.
  4. Take photos of damaged areas.
  5. Save remnants of damaged or destroyed property for your insurance company adjuster.

Meet with your insurance company adjuster first before signing anything with a public adjuster.

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