Homeowners aren’t the only ones who are affected by weather catastrophes. As we approach hurricane season, businesses should ensure they have an emergency preparedness plan in place in order to mitigate losses should a storm occur.
1. Develop an emergency response plan.
The last thing you want to deal with is what to do when you have a high expectation for a flood or all the windows are blown out of your buildings and your roof is peeled back like a sardine can. Prepare a plan ahead of time so you can react and activate your catastrophic response team as soon as the storm leaves town.
2. Assess risks to your mission-critical infrastructure.
Think through and evaluate what your potential loss of functions would be in the case of direct or indirect damage. If you are in a single-story ranch office in a flood zone, your potential loss of business capabilities will be very different than if you are on an upper floor of a high rise. Because hurricanes are so vast and the damage ripples out so far from the eye of the storm, hurricane preparation is necessary not just for coastal businesses. Determine what functions you could lose so that you can create a priority list for your disaster planning.
3. Backup your data and test the recovery process.
Don’t assume that your backup technology is working automatically. Take the time to recover information from the backup system to be sure you know both that it works and how to access critical information.
4. Do your research ahead of time.
Even if your business is not damaged by a hurricane, your production capabilities can be interrupted if a company that provides a product or service you depend on is sidelined or wiped out by a storm. Connect with each vendor you work with to be sure it has a backup plan for continuing production in the case of a storm, and if not, find an alternative that you can turn to in a pinch. You should also know which contractors or restoration company you’re going to call before a hurricane strikes. The demand for emergency services surges after a severe windstorm, and the best options may be unavailable if you want too long to call.
5. Talk to your employees.
Have a conversation with your workers to be sure they understand company procedures and that they are personally equipped to manage in the case of a destructive storm impairing normal working routines. In addition, in the event of a hurricane, you can’t always depend on cell phones or landlines working, but you will need to be able to communicate with employees. Create an alternate means of connecting (such as a text message service or social media page) with your staff and be sure to test it out in a non-critical situation. Employee contact information is one of the most important components of any business operation, and it is even more critical in an emergency. Knowing how to reach your employees and vendors is a vital part of helping your business to quickly recover from a disaster.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.