In the wake of the disaster that Hurricane Harvey left behind, experts estimate up to $23 billion dollars in damage occurred in just two southeast Texas counties.
That number reflects market value, rather than total storm damage, and it doesn’t include the storm’s total reach. Experts are still calculating the total cost of damage across the rest of Texas and Louisiana.
It’ll take many business owners – especially those of small businesses – years to rebuild, if they do at all. Over 40% of small businesses don’t reopen after a disaster because they simply don’t have the resources.
Here are some serious issues to consider before the next hurricane hits:
Develop a business continuity plan.
Get the right types of insurance – and review coverage periodically.
Many businesses in the storm’s path did not have flood insurance, which means there may be few options for filing flood-related claims. Business owners should look to the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which can issue policies that cover businesses in the event of a flood.
Consider the emotional toll on employees.
Your business was hit by a hurricane; that means your employees’ homes were likely affected, too. Hurricane Harvey displaced an estimated one million people. While getting your business back up and running is a priority for you, consider the impact of the storm on your colleagues. Following a natural disaster, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and be flexible with employees as they deal with damage to their homes. Put policies in place before a storm hits that outline how you’ll handle working after the storm. Your employees may need to work flexible hours while they care for kids who aren’t able to go to school or elderly relatives who typically live on their own or at a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Organize and protect your records.
In the days leading up to a forecasted hurricane or other severe weather, you’ll likely want to spend it preparing for physical damage, preparing to evacuate and making sure that your family and your employees’ families are safe. You don’t want to spend it scrambling to organize your policy files. While most of the information you need is on the web, make sure you can easily access it from your phone. You might also want to print out backup copies of policies and carry them with you so you can reach out to insurers after the event.
Put your smartphone to use.
When it’s time to assess the damage and begin rebuilding, put your smartphone to use. Take pictures and video to capture the damage to your business. As an added measure, take pictures of paper receipts during your rebuilding efforts as a backup. It’s an easy way to help you document your expenses that can contribute to your deductible.
These recent powerful storms are a reminder to prepare ahead of time for these types of natural disasters – even if you don’t think it can happen to you.
Wind, hail, and water damage are among the most common causes of property damage, occurring mostly to the roof. Additionally, fallen tree limbs and a general lack of maintenance and can also lead to not only roof damage but overall home damage through leaking water and wood rotting.
To keep your roof in good condition, we suggest the following:
Consider having your home inspected for wind mitigation. Wind mitigation refers to the hardening of your home against damage from a windstorm. Policyholders who take the proper steps to make their homes more resistant to wind are eligible for a discounts off their Access Home Insurance premium. Learn more about wind mitigation.
Don’t forget the chimney!
Chimney fires are caused by buildup of material inside the flue of a chimney. Have your chimney professionally cleaned by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. They will inspect your solid fuel venting system annually, clean and make repairs where needed. Your professional sweep may have other maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove.
Other Home Hazards:
BACK TO SCHOOL
It is very important that parents, guardians, staff and students are aware of the major hazards a school might face and they should understand the procedures to follow if a severe weather should occur.
The most important part of safety in schools is to develop an effective plan tailored to your building’s design to ensure optimal safety. A lot of schools implement outdated plans, or plans which do not take into account the specifics of their respective building structures. This can be dangerous, considering that every school is built differently.
Ultimately, the school administrators need to evaluate the time, space, traffic flow and coordination needed to direct all the children and staff to safe areas in an organized manner. This will require running several customized drills each tailored to individual buildings.
Portable classrooms, also known as a “demountables”, are portable buildings installed at schools for temporary classroom space. All severe weather safety plans must include getting students out of portable classrooms and into a safe area in the main building of the school as quickly as possible. Once a severe weather alert is issued, students should be evacuated from these portable classrooms immediately.
Large, open-span areas, such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, and lunchrooms, can be very dangerous during severe weather, and should not be used for sheltering people. These open area rooms are vulnerable to inherent structural weaknesses and a lack of adequate roof support, making them prone to collapsing in stronger winds or in severe weather conditions.
SOME ADVANCE STRATEGIES
A carefully developed drill should be conducted several times a year to keep students and staff in good practice, and to eliminate problems. Also, large and easy to read maps or signs should be posted throughout the hallways directing people to the safe areas.
•If a storm watch is issued, administrators should monitor the storm carefully.
•If the school’s alarm system relies on electricity, there should also be a compressed air horn or megaphone to sound the alert in case of a power failure.
•All schools should develop plans for disabled students.
•All schools should designate someone to be trained to turn off electricity and gas promptly and safely should the need arise.
•Assemblies or lunch in large rooms should be postponed or moved if severe weather is approaching.
Information from: Weather Ready Nation and Ready.gov
Hurricane Preparedness for Insurance Agents
Now that hurricane season is underway, you’ve probably taken steps within your home to ensure you’re prepared in the event of an emergency. And you may have sent some information out to your clients. But what about your “home away from home” – your business? While forecasters have predicted a quieter than normal hurricane season in 2015, it’s always important to be ready with a plan in case disaster strikes. In regards to your business, it can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers or shutting down for a few days.
Here are 6 steps you can take to make sure your business needs are covered in the event of a hurricane:
Being prepared at work, as well as at home, will help you address concerns during the aftermath.