Lesson Learned from Hugo: Preparedness Key to Weathering Hurricanes

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Insurance News Service says when Hurricane Hugo pummeled the coast in 1989 it cost the state $4.2 billion in insured damages.

With the population increase, if Hugo were to hit today the cost could be as much as $20 billion.

In 2007 South Carolina's General Assembly passed the Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance to help homeowners get a jump on Mother Nature.

"The law in SC provides a lot of incentives to homeowners to help them protect their homes from damage," said Allison Dean Love, the executive director of the South Carolina Insurance News Service.

The law requires insurance companies to give premium discounts to homeowners who install items like storm shutters and roof tie downs.

The savings can range from two to 20 percent.  Homeowners can also get tax credits for buying items to make their houses sturdier during a hurricane.

"Really the best thing is to be prepared ahead of time, to make sure you have a plan on how to properly secure your home, so that when a storm does come you're all set and ready to go, " said Bradley Mohan of the Lowe's in West Ashley.

The 2007 legislation also created Catastrophe Savings Accounts.  This allows homeowners to put money back in the event of a major hurricane to pay for expenses like insurance deductibles.

The accounts are state income tax-free and can be set up at any bank.

South Carolina Safe Home, a grant program created under the law, has provided more than $4 million in grants to 800 homeowners in the state trying to protect their homes from hurricanes.

For more information go to www.scsafehome.com.