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Personal Lines Preparing for Hurricane Season During COVID 19

Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and this year’s hurricane season is predicted to be more active than normal, with a higher likelihood of a major hurricane touching down on the U.S. coastline. These predictions compound potential issues for homeowners already stressed and sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Given indications that the outbreak will continue into the hurricane season, this situation requires a new kind of planning. Among the many issues to be considered:

Evacuation will have extra complications

There is much we still do not know about how officials will handle evacuations considering the pandemic. Florida officials are considering adjusting the state’s hurricane-response plans to prepare for the possibility of an early storm season intersecting with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the dramatic decrease in airline schedules, getting out of the way in case a hurricane is headed your way is set to become even more difficult. Staying at a hotel or with friends or family who live farther inland will likely be better options than relying on a large emergency shelter.

Stocking up on supplies and food

Since shortages of various items are increasingly common these days, experts are urging homeowners to proactively line-up defenses and be ready for heightened storm activity, before the rush that occurs when hurricane and tropical storm forecasts threaten our area. Household stocking of supplies may be even more critical than normal to get through the hurricane season. Stock up early on items such as batteries, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, fully charged back up cell phone chargers, first aid kits, nonperishable food and medicine.

Protecting valuable property 

Once personal safety is addressed, your plan should also consider protecting property. Who is going to be responsible for installing storm shutters or testing sump pumps and making sure there’s sufficient battery backup? In addition, valuable collections that previously were able to wait until a warning had been issued to call a service to pick up and store may no longer be a feasible option. Consider preemptively removing some property out of harm’s way while you have the resources available.

While there are many questions that remain about how this hurricane season will play out, we will continue to provide information and updates to keep you in the know. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines Protect Your Home Before Hurricane Season V2

With the start of hurricane season approaching, now is the best time to take a look at your properties’ vulnerability to extreme spring and summer weather like storm surge, flooding, and wind.

Here is a checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

  1. Plan Your Evacuation Route. Start by figuring out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area. Contact your local government/emergency management office or by check the evacuation site website. In the event of a major storm, you may be asked to evacuate, so it’s  wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. Don’t forget to take your pets into account.
  2. Organize a Basic Supply Kit. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
  3. Write or Review a Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with family or close friends and decide how to get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what to do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in an emergency supplies kit or another safe place where it can easily be accessible in the event of a disaster.
  4. Review Your Insurance Policies. Take a moment to review your policies and ensure that there is adequate coverage for your home and personal property. If you are unsure, send me a message and I will be happy to review your current policies.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

Ron Lazarto, CPRIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Ron specializes in offering customized property and casualty insurance solutions for successful individuals and their families. Comments and questions are welcome at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com

The Employer's Guide to COVID-19The increased spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States presents employers with significant workplace challenges. In order to help combat such challenges, we created this toolkit to help employers familiarize themselves with the best practices for handling the fallout.

This toolkit provides a comprehensive overview of the most HR Toolkit – The Employer’s Guide to COVID-19 V2 pressing issues facing employers, including vital information regarding new federal laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, HIPAA privacy considerations, carrier response to the pandemic, layoffs and furloughs, tax credits and much more. Every effort will be made to continue to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and employer compliance considerations.

Click here to download the toolkit

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

How To Protect Idle Buildings During COVID-19Several factors make vacant and idle facilities particularly vulnerable to loss. The most common property perils facing a vacant and idle facility include fire, vandalism, and inclement weather. While these perils are also present for operating facilities, they are magnified when a facility is vacant, operating on a skeleton crew, or idled.

During this period of uncertainty and reduced staffing due to COVID-19, it is especially important to prepare and mitigate the risks that are unique to vacant or idle facilities. The following strategies can help mitigate the risks with vacant and idle buildings: 

  • Ensure that fire protection systems are maintained and fully functional. Verify that sprinkler control valves are secured in the open position and that fire pumps are in the automatic setting. The typical service and maintenance activities for fire protection systems should be continued where possible.
  • Central station alarm companies and local fire departments should be notified when a facility is vacated or idled. The emergency response procedures and alarm protocols should be discussed and adjusted to address the lack of on-site personnel.
  • Fuel and power should be verified and maintained for any fire pumps and special extinguishing systems.
  • Housekeeping conditions should be addressed to eliminate or reduce any unnecessary combustibles in the building. Combustible storage outside the building, such as idle pallets, should be eliminated. Waste receptacles should be emptied and secured.
  • Operations involving flammable or combustible liquids should be discontinued, and flammable liquids should be removed or relocated to properly protected areas.
  • Steps should be taken to ensure that critical machinery is shut down and idled in a safe manner. Equipment manufacturers should be consulted for guidance on long-term shutdown of sensitive machines.
  • The perimeter building areas and exterior doors should be secured. Personnel with keys and key cards should be reviewed to ensure that only designated approved individuals have access to the building.
  • CCTV cameras should be verified and/or installed to cover sensitive areas. Remote monitoring should be established by designated facility personnel or central station alarm companies.
  • Building roof areas should be inspected to ensure unnecessary storage is removed from the roof. Building drains and scuppers should be cleaned to ensure effective drainage.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at ghavemeier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Insurance for Loss of Income?Raise your hand if you ever thought that churches across the country would be shuttered and pastors everywhere would be relying solely on live-streaming their services to connect with members…

Me neither.

This has a lot of churches and other non-profit organizations questioning how these forced (or otherwise strongly encouraged) shutdowns will affect their tithes, donations and other revenue that is dependent on donors.  After all, if the doors aren’t open, will giving be forgotten?  Second, if the church had to shut its doors through no fault of its own, is the loss of income covered under the insurance policy, like a closure due to a fire or hurricane? To answer this question, let’s take a look at Business Income Insurance – what’s it’s intended for, what it covers and how to best estimate how much is needed.

The Intent of Business Income Insurance

Business Interruption (BI) Insurance, also known as Business Income Insurance, is a type of insurance that covers a business for the reduction in revenue after they suffer a loss.  The intent is to carry the business through the time of restoration or rebuilding after a disaster. After a major loss, rebuilding can take several months, and this is after waiting on things like adjuster investigation and permitting.

The key to triggering coverage for a business income loss can come from a couple of places (1) physical damage to a covered property that forces a closure or (2) a civil authority forces a location or whole area to close.  The caveat to a civil authority closure is that there still needs to be physical damage to property, maybe not even owned by the church, that makes the closure necessary. For example, after a major hurricane, many streets are impassable and power lines are down which forces road closures.  There may not be anything wrong with your insured building, but people just aren’t allowed to get to you.  Whether it’s damage to your building or surrounding property that forces a shutdown, property damage by a covered item is a requirement.

This leads us to our current pandemic situation.  Will insurance companies pay for lost revenue due to forced closures?  The intent and language of the insurance policies say no.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t file a claim, or that the policies won’t be challenged in the courtroom, but business income insurance policies are not intended to cover for quarantine due to a global pandemic.

Indispensable Protection

What our current pandemic situation has taught us, however, is how important the coverage is if we were to find ourselves out of business due to a physical loss, like a hurricane.  Business Income insurance can include things like payment of ordinary payroll for all staff members, payment of extra expenses (for things like renting offsite space for services or preschool education), or payment of other ongoing expenses like mortgages or leases.

Business Income Worksheets Calculate the Need

Determining the appropriate amount of BI for a church is unique to its needs and exposures.  The need will change if the following are present: tuition-based preschool, thrift stores, fee-based counseling services, summer camps, concerts, or other revenue generating events. Fortunately, similarities with other churches have allowed insurance carriers to create a reliable “benchmark” for churches and religious institutions.  The benchmark BI limit for churches is 80% of total revenue (assuming 12-month value and including 100% payroll benefit).

There are various BI worksheets available to help calculate an appropriate value of business income necessary to insure.  Click here for a free BI worksheet designed specifically for churches.

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jkeller@gulfshoreinsurance.com