The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one for the record books, and as people prepare for what the upcoming hurricane season brings, they may notice changes that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is making. This year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is making some changes in regards to the upcoming hurricane season:
1. Adjustments to the official hurricane track maps
One of the biggest changes this hurricane season will be adjustments to the NHC’s hurricane track map. When the NHC issues a track for a tropical system, the map includes what is known as the cone of uncertainty. For the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, the cone will be smaller than it has been in past years. This will give the public a better idea of where the center of the storm is headed in the coming days.
2. Experimental wind maps will become official
In 2017, the NHC introduced an experimental map to help convey to the public when strong winds would arrive at a given location. These experimental maps showed the expected arrival time of tropical storm-force winds in 6- to- 12-hour increments extending out five days out. Not only should preparations be complete by the time these strong winds arrive, but anyone that is evacuating should have left the area as traveling in tropical-storm-force winds can be extremely dangerous. After going through a test run in the 2017 season, the NHC has decided to make these maps fully operational for the upcoming season.
3. Advisories will include potential impacts farther in advance
Whenever there is an active tropical system, the NHC issues a public advisory that includes information about all aspects of the storm, such as current winds, expected storm surge and the precise location of the system’s center. In past years, these advisories only discussed the given tropical system for the next two days, limiting the amount of log-range details about the storm. However, starting this year, these advisories will contain information that talks about hazards as far as five days in advance.
Hurricane Irma’s historic size and impact have been felt throughout the state. In addition to its impact on Floridians and their property, Hurricane Irma has the potential to impact your insurance after the fact. It is important to make sure you have the proper coverage in place before accepting projects outside your normal scope of operations; leasing and operating new equipment; or hiring new sub-contractors.
Below are several important post Hurricane Irma considerations to make.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: Employees may be working extensive overtime hours or you may be hiring temporary sub-contractors.
- Consider increasing payroll exposures now so your work comp audit is not negatively impacted at year end. Be sure to break out overtime pay so that at the time of the premium audit, the auditor will be able to discount it back to straight time. If the auditor cannot readily break out the overtime portion, it will be used in calculating the premium.
- If hiring temporary workers or sub-contractors, make sure those workers have insurance and obtain proof of coverage. If hiring a subcontractor who does not have workers’ compensation coverage or it gets cancelled and one of the sub’s employees gets hurt, the responsibility for that injury can fall to you. This will ultimately impact your work comp experience mod and insurance premium. It’s the same situation when hiring an exemption holder. If that exemption expires and the subcontractor does not renew it in a timely fashion, that sub is no longer exempt. If he/she is hurt on the job, a claim can be filed against your company to cover the injury. To quickly look up the status of a sub-contractor’s work comp insurance, you can do so here: Search for Proof of Compliance
- If undertaking or bidding projects outside of your normal scope of operations ensure you are aware of the appropriate class codes and rates for that work. Workers’ Compensation class codes are specific to the type of work being performed, and the rates can vary greatly. New or complimentary operations often require additional class codes being added to your WC policy. Make sure you’re aware if the new class code comes with a higher rate, so there will be no surprises at the year-end audit.
EQUIPMENT FLOATERS & INLAND MARINE: Leasing & operating temporary equipment could put you at risk.
- If you lease temporary equipment, then you should verify the limits of your insurance coverage and possibly increase your coverage limits.
- Unusual equipment often requires special coverage. In addition, renting equipment with an operator will require proof of insurance for the operator as well. Some equipment, such as cranes or lift trucks with large booms require special coverage and needs to be discussed with your Account Manager or Client Advisor to ensure it is properly covered for weight of load, tipping, etc.
- In addition, if you are renting a crane with an operator, the rental company should be providing the coverage – for the equipment, employee (workers’ comp), and any associated general liability for operating the crane. Be sure to review the rental agreement with your Client Advisor or Account Manager to make sure that you are protected and that you obtain proof of coverage from the crane company.
MOLD: Do not end up with a mold-related lawsuit; have the proper coverage in place.
- With hurricane related water damage, inevitably comes mold. If you become involved in any mold mitigation projects, make sure to have proper pollution and professional coverage in place. Without it, you will not be covered against claims from removal, disposal, or cleanup work.
GENERAL LIABILITY: Policy exclusions may impact the scope of work you are taking on.
- For companies that have never worked on residential projects and might be taking on that type of work following Hurricane Irma, it is important to note that you may have policy exclusions that restrict your coverage. Sub-contractors may also have exclusions to their policies for residential, condo, or multi-family work, so it’s critical to verify there are none of these exclusions on your or your sub-contractors’ General Liability policy, prior to performing any of this work.
It is important to discuss these considerations with your trusted Client Advisor or Account Manager at Gulfshore Insurance to ensure you have the proper protection. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact us. We are here to assist you and happy to answer any questions you have.
“Call for the generator and kick into business continuity alert mode – a category 5 storm is expected to hit Naples on Thursday.” Word of a Hurricane spread quickly, but did not come from the National Hurricane Center or The Weather Channel. Rather, Gulfshore Insurance announced internally that “a three-day agency-wide disaster preparedness drill designed to simulate a major hurricane in our area” would be held May 24-26.
Life has taught us that practice makes perfect and that it probably is unreasonable to expect everything to be orderly, sane, and fully functioning during or after a disaster. That is why Gulfshore Insurance hosted a multi-day, department-wide, hurricane readiness drill to intensively prepare the agency to deal with the effects of a major storm. The exercise was in preparation for the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which began June 1st.
As hurricane season approaches, there are key items that Association Boards of Directors, Management, and residents need to be prepared for. The most important thing you can do in preparation for hurricane season is to have a plan. Every association in Florida, particularly those along the coastline and in flood or evacuation zones, should create a hurricane preparedness plan and distribute it to residents. In order to create a comprehensive plan, we recommend the following:
- Know your exposure: It’s important to understand the risk associated with your community. Flood elevation, vulnerability to storm surge, and potential for power loss should all be considered.
- Identify important contacts: Your plan should include contact information for local law enforcement, fire rescue, hospitals, schools, shelters, and utilities.
- Have supplies: Put together a basic supply kit. The most common items can become hard to come by before and after a disaster.
- Most Importantly, Prepare: While each Association has different needs, it is important to have a detailed preparation plan that it specific to your community. As a storm approaches, actions such as cutting back trees, clearing debris, securing common elements, and shuttering the windows of common facilities may need to be taken. Know exactly what each task is and when it needs to be completed.
Please download our comprehensive Hurricane Resource Guide for information for important checklists and information regarding storm preparedness.
Now that Hurricane Matthew has passed, if you have experienced a loss as a result of the storm, please be sure to read the important information below and take the necessary steps to file your claim. Click here to download a printable version of this information.
In the event a loss has occurred, you can report your claim directly to your insurance carrier through the appropriate phone numbers listed here.
As always, our Claims Advocates, Client Advisors, and Service Teams are standing by to assist you as needed. You can reach us at (800) 793-5238.
Important Information Regarding Your Claim:
- Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to contact you at the number you provided on your claim report. Be sure to let us know if that has changed or if there is an alternate number where you may be reached. Insurers usually send adjusters to the more severely damaged properties first. If you suffered minor damage, please be patient. Claims that have been reported to our office will be followed up as follows: Severe Claim – 7 days after reporting; Moderate Claim -15 days; Minor Claim – 30 day follow-up.
- If your business or home is uninhabitable or you move somewhere else temporarily, be sure to let the insurance company or Gulfshore Insurance know where you can be reached. Spray-painting your building is not recommended as most policies do not cover exterior painting. Your name and correct address should be sufficient for an adjuster to find you. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR POLICY NUMBER. Someone else may take advantage of that.
- In some instances, an adjuster may issue you an advance check. This advance will be deducted from your final claim payment and is considered to be an “emergency advance”. Please do not be offended if they ask you for identification. This is for your protection.
- If you have a still or video camera, take pictures of the damage including your contents, prior to making any temporary repairs.
- Begin making temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Save all of your receipts, the company will ask for them at a later date. Do not remove any of the debris until it has been seen by the adjuster.
- Do not attempt to make permanent repairs on your home or business until an adjuster has inspected it.
- You will be required to complete a Personal Property Inventory form for damaged items.
- We suggest that you complete this on a per location basis.
- List the “Replacement Cost” of each item and its actual cash value, if you know it. Replacement cost is what it would cost today to replace an item with another one just like it.
- Actual Cash Value is what the item is really worth after deducting for depreciation and wear.
- Attach any documentation you can (receipts, photos, cancelled checks, credit card statements, warranty booklets, etc).
- Most homeowners and business owner packages provide for removal of trees or branches that have fallen on your structure. They usually do not pay for removal of trees or debris that blew into your yard or fell in your yard without damaging anything. This coverage will vary by company.
- If your property is rendered uninhabitable, most policies provide Loss of Use Coverage which is designed to reimburse you for extra expenses and temporary housing. Usually, the temporary housing dollar amount is based on the fair market value of your home or apartment and the length of time you will be displaced. (subject to your policy limits). Extra Expense coverage is designed to reimburse you for the extra expenses you incur to maintain your business after a loss that you would not normally incur, such as renting a temporary space, additional mileage, generators, electrical, computer or phone expenses over and above your usual costs, if you have this coverage. The policy you have with your insurer does not obligate them to pay you the policy limit upfront. You must incur the extra expense and provide proof of loss in the form of receipts or invoices.
- If you are unable to temporarily relocate your business and must completely shut down until repairs are made, or if you do maintain operations but at a lower business volume, you may also be able to recoup some of your lost profits and continuing expenses, such as payroll for key employees, if your policy includes Business Interruption coverage.
- If you have had a change of mortgagee on a property; completed paying for a vehicle or piece of equipment; or had a change in the named insured (due to death or divorce, etc.), then make sure that you have notified us and an endorsement is made to correct your policy. Any related checks with an insured lienholder will be made payable to YOU AND THE LIENHOLDER, as shown on your policy.
- If you have not heard from an adjuster within 7 to 14 days, notify us immediately so that we can determine what the delay is. We can assist you with your claim.
Depending on the severity of storm damage in your area, you may need to arrange to meet the adjuster somewhere and then proceed to your property. We will attempt to assist you in coordinating these meetings if necessary.
Don’t Become a Victim of Insurance Fraud
An Assignment of Benefits is an agreement that transfers all insurance policy benefits and rights from you, the policyholder, to a third party such a contractor or repair vendor after damage has occurred to your property. An AOB is intended to help expedite the claims process and make things easier for the insured, but oftentimes, and AOB is fraudulently misused for repair vendors to seize control of the claims process with the intention of overcharging and inflating repair costs, often while keeping the insured in the dark. We recommend never signing an AOB and transferring your benefits to a vendor. If you have experienced damage from Hurricane Matthew, please call your insurance company first or contact a member of our team. We are here to help!
We are here to serve you, our client. Please advise us if you are having difficulty with your claim so that we will be in a position to assist you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us about any questions you may have concerning a loss.