Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Hurricane

hurricane-matthew2Now 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If you have a still or video camera, take pictures of the damage including your contents, prior to making any temporary repairs.
  5. 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.
  6. Do not attempt to make permanent repairs on your home or business until an adjuster has inspected it.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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

fraud-warningAn 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.

A Hurricane Warning and Watch are in effect for portions of the east Florida coastline. Gulfshore Insurance’s Fort Lauderdale office will be closed starting today Wednesday, October 5th and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

*Please note, our west coast offices and all of our phone lines will remain open and we are available to assist you before, during, and after the storm. You can reach our team at (800) 793-5238.

The National Hurricane Center continues to stress that when a hurricane is forecast to take a track roughly parallel to a coastline, as Matthew is forecast to do from Florida to South Carolina, it becomes very difficult to estimate impacts well in advance. A small deviation of the track could bring the core of the storm onshore OR completely offshore. Please take the necessary precautions now to prepare for the possibility of a severe storm impact.

Dealing with the Aftermath of the Storm
In the event a loss occurs, you can report your claim directly to your insurance carrier through the appropriate phone number listed below. We recommend you print your appropriate list of claims numbers to reference in the event you are unable to access this information electronically after the storm has passed.
Personal Insurance
Commercial Insurance

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 or gsi@gulfshoreinsurance.com
Click here for information on how to prepare for a storm and what to do during and after it hits.

Click here for the latest from the National Hurricane Center.

Following the recent devastation and flooding in Louisiana over the past few weeks, many are now facing the arduous task of removing debris from their properties and submitting insurance claims. Believe it or not, “debris” accounts for roughly 27% of the total cost of a disaster. Yet, debris management remains one of the most overlooked and least-planned-for components of disaster response and recovery.

FEMA recently issued a bulletin that outlines a policyholder’s responsibilities in the event of a loss. The Fact Sheet provided by FEMA details how you should report a flood claim; what to document in the aftermath of a disaster; how to properly document and dispose of debris/damaged property; where to get help; and more.

Please keep in mind, there are specific responsibilities that need to be followed in the event of a loss to ensure proper payment of claims.

Debris Removal Guidelines

 

Click here to view the full memorandum from FEMA. Our in-house staff of experienced flood insurance professionals is available to handle your questions and provide guidance.

Hurricane damage can’t always be prevented or eliminated, but with some careful forethought, it can be mitigated long before a storm arrives. There are some obvious preventative measures that can be conducted that require out of pocket expense like inspecting/repairing/upgrading the roof cover and perimeter flashing or installing hurricane shutters, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on the activities that businesses can perform that require no more investment than time and energy.  These are broken into Pre-Hurricane, Warning, During, and After-Hurricane phases.

In most cases, hurricane planning activities should be implemented prior to Hurricane Season which begins June 1st and continues through October 31st. However, there are plenty of measures you can take immediately before, during, and after a hurricane to reduce loss.

 

How Does Hurricane Damage Occur?

saffir-simpsonHurricanes are rated by category; 1 through 5 depending on the documented wind speed. Widespread damage begins when a hurricane reaches the upper limit of a Category 2, around 110 mph.  At this speed, the wind is sufficient enough to literally suck the roof cover from all or part of the building.  In addition, high winds have the ability to turn most windblown debris into missiles, thereby breaking windows and doors.  These openings then allow more wind to enter the building which creates additional upward forces on the roof.  If a roof hasn’t been sucked off the building from the primary forces, once there are openings in the building, these secondary forces are sure to help blow the roof off the building. Once the roof is all or partially removed, and additional secondary holes have been punched in a building, the interior and contents are much more likely to be damaged or destroyed by rain that typically accompanies a hurricane.

 

Pre-Hurricane Preventive Measures

Once a hurricane is on its way, resources start to become scarce and much more expensive. Highlighted below are activities businesses can perform prior to hurricane season so that they can resume operations as quickly as possible after the storm.

  • Create or customize a checklist of activities that can be used during all phases of the storm.
  • Appoint an individual to monitor weather forecasts and track impending hurricanes.
  • Qualify and pre-commit contractors and suppliers for post-hurricane repairs. (Use firms not likely to be affected by the same hurricane.)
  • Consult with emergency management authorities to identify evacuation routes.
  • Stock supplies and prepare needed equipment (rations, generators, radios, flashlights w/ batteries, medical supplies, and lumber/tools/hardware).
  • Relocate valuable on-floor equipment/storage to protect from water damage.

 

As the Hurricane Approaches (Warning Phase)

  • CASH is king! Obtain and keep accessible as much as possible as banks may not be open following the storm.
  • Brace lightweight doors from the inside to minimize the chance of them blowing in.
  • Fill fuel tanks, generators, vehicles, etc.
  • Protect or move valuable papers and important documents to a safe location.
  • Close valves on gas lines and if possible disconnect the electric supply at the service entrance.
  • Clean the roof drains, gutters, and downspouts.
  • Initiate orderly shutdown of equipment sensitive to sudden loss of power.
  • Evacuate personnel.

 

During the Hurricane

  • Personnel remaining should check for roof leaks, broken windows and piping, fires, and initiate emergency responses as needed.
  • If power failure does occur, disconnect circuits so they cannot be reenergized without checking for damage.

 

After the Hurricane

  • Survey the damage and establish priorities.
  • Board up openings.
  • Check circuits and equipment before restoring power.
  • Follow your pre-established salvage reconstruction and recovery plan using key employees and outside contractors.

 

Damage from hurricanes may be inevitable, but with some careful pre-planning and diligent execution of strategic activities, you can significantly reduce the cost associated with a hurricane. Costs can escalate significantly once you consider property/wind insurance deductibles, lost production time, and supply chain disruptions.  A risk manager or insurance agent can help you identify and prioritize the most critical exposures for your particular business.

Though the Atlantic hurricane season starts each year on June 1st, emergency planning should generally be a year-round priority; especially if you own a business in Florida. Seven of the ten costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Florida, six of them occurring within just two years (2004 and 2005). Florida has been fortunate in recent years, but hurricane season is no time to become complacent about being prepared for a storm.

Statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration show that many businesses are not prepared to respond to a natural disaster. One in four businesses that close because of a disaster coming, never reopen. Small businesses are particularly at risk because typically they have one location – the one that is damaged or destroyed. So, what should business owners located in hurricane-prone areas do to make sure they are ready for a potential storm? The Insurance Information Institute recommends that we be proactive by implementing the following steps:

Developing a Business Continuity Plan: When developing a Business Continuity Plan, share the plan with employees, assign responsibilities, and offer training so your workforce can collaborate in the recovery of the business. Conduct regular drills to assess and improve response.

Maintain Key Information Offsite: To get your business up and operating after a disaster, you’ll need to be able to access critical business information. In addition to backing up computer data, keep an offsite list of your insurance policies, banking information and phone numbers of employees, key customers, vendors and suppliers, your insurance professional and others. If you have a back-up site make sure it’s sufficiently far away so as not to be affected by the same risks that threaten the primary location.

Take a Business Inventory: Creating a business inventory includes listing all business equipment, supplies and merchandise—and don’t forget to include commercial vehicles.

Review Your Insurance Coverage: The time to review your insurance policy is before disaster strikes and you have to file a claim. It is important that your business have both the right amount and type of insurance for its needs and risk profile. Our insurance professionals at Gulfshore Insurance can assist you by providing you with a complete “checkup” of your insurance exposures and guidance on risk and insurance matters. We help build the right insurance and risk management programs to fully protect your assets.