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8/29/2012 - Storm warnings and watches: What's the difference?

There are major differences between a storm watch and a storm warning.

When it comes to notices about Tropical Storm Isaac storm warnings or watches being issued, it may seem like there is a distinction without much of a difference. But as the Insurance Information Institute indicates that the disparity in terms is important to note, not only because it can impact how people prepare, but also property insurance coverage.

As noted by the III, when a weather watch is issued, it means that conditions are ripe for dangerous weather. It doesn't necessarily mean that a storm is imminent, but that climatic circumstances are such that a storm could form.

This differs with a warning, as it means that the chances of a storm forming are so high, precautions ought to be taken immediately, such as evacuating or seeking out shelter.

It's at this point that some people may want to update their insurance policies, fearing what could be in store. But as the III indicates, most private insurance companies stop writing new policies or upgrading plans that are already in place when a watch or warning is issued by government agencies, such as the National Hurricane Center. Lynne McChristian, a Florida representative for III, explained why this is so.

"Insurance is available because the possibility of loss is unforeseen or unknown," said McChristian. "No one would offer insurance protection if a loss were a sure thing, and that is much more likely to happen when a storm is on the horizon."

If you’re a current Selective customer or want to obtain coverage with Selective, be sure to review your policies and talk to your independent insurance agent about any changes you need before a storm watch or warning is issued.

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