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What Businesses Can Learn From Harvey and Irma Before The Next Hurricane

Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

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.

Harvey put the brakes on the fifth largest economy in the U.S. for a few days – and it’s very slowly beginning to move again.
Obviously, it may not be possible (or safe) to work during a hurricane. However, depending on the effects of the storm, you may be able to resume business at an alternate location – if you’ve planned in advance.
Before a storm hits, review your employees’ contact information to ensure it’s up to date. It may be a snap to reach people on social media, email, by phone or text, but consider how power outages, cell service and even email servers might be affected by a natural disaster.
In addition to your employees, you should also make sure your suppliers and partner companies are available. If your supply chain is disrupted by the same natural disaster – or another one that doesn’t directly affect you – you might still have to deal with the fallout. Consider contingent business interruption (CBI) insurance to protect against disruptions in your supply chain.

Get the right types of insurance – and review coverage periodically.

Business interruption insurance will cover expenses your business incurs if you can’t operate due to a hurricane or other natural disaster. Review your limits periodically to ensure you’ve got adequate coverage. It’s easy to underestimate what you need to try and save money – in reality, business might resume just a few days after a storm hits, but you could feel the effects long after it.
On the other hand, if your business has been severely damaged, you may need to rebuild. Make sure your business interruption insurance includes coverage for payroll. If you can’t work remotely during the rebuilding phase, you want to ensure that your employees are compensated until they’re able to work again.
Typical property insurance covers the effects of natural disasters like lightning damage or wind damage. But it doesn’t cover damage caused by flooding. Hurricane Harvey dumped an unprecedented 51.8 inches of rain on parts of Houston, which is more rain than the city usually accumulates in a year.

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.

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Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather

Posted on: November 4th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

       

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:

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches to prevent them from falling due to wind, ice or snow.
  • Check for roof damage, clean gutters and downspouts. It is very important to keep those falling leaves from building up in the gutters.
  • If you live in a hail-prone area, consider an impact-resistant roofing material such as glazed ceramic or baked clay flat roof tiles.
  • Adding extra attic insulation may prevent ice dams, which are caused by excessive heat escaping from a poorly insulated attic, melting snow and ice on the roof and refreezing. This can cause water damage inside the home.
  • Check flashing (waterproofing) to make sure it is in good condition to help prevent water penetration.
  • Leaky windows and doors can allow rain and cold air to get into the house. Repair the caulking around all doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.

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: 

  • If you have a furnace, consider replacing the filter and have it cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
  • Clean your clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Make a habit of removing all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
  • Check electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Consider purchasing a surge protector for multiple power resources.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors and make sure there is one on every floor in your house. Test them monthly and replace the battery annually.

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Are School’s Ready For Severe Weather?

Posted on: September 9th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

BACK TO SCHOOLBack 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

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.

GYMS/AUDITORIUMS

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.

ADDITIONAL TIPS:

•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

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Hurricane Preparedness for Insurance Agents

Posted on: June 29th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance

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.

 

 

 

 

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Six Important Questions Homeowners Should Ask Their Insurance Agent

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

insurance agentPurchasing a house is one of the biggest financial commitments you will ever make. Homeowners insurance is one important part of the process. It’s imperative that you’re protected from loss, but you may be a little unclear what’s involved and what options are available to you. That’s where an insurance agent can help. Your agent can help you understand how much coverage you need and what type of policy is best for you.

As you get started on your home buying adventure, here are six questions you should consider asking your agent. While not all six questions may pertain to your situation, the answers your agent gives will help determine the best home insurance policy for you:

  1. How much would it cost to rebuild my home in its current condition and location if it were a total loss?
  2. Are rates affected by the type of construction on my home?
  3. How much would I need to replace personal belongings if they were destroyed?
  4. What discounts are available? What other ways can I reduce my premium?
  5. And for those of you who have dogs. . . I have a dog whose breed is considered ‘vicious’. Am I able to obtain coverage for dog bites? Access Home Insurance provides insurance coverage for breeds classified as ‘vicious’, including Pit Bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweiler’s. Policies exclude animal liability however, allowing policyholders to secure homeowners insurance coverage and keep their pet.
  6. And in this very fortunate case . . . I have a home with a pool and a diving board. Can I get coverage? Homes having diving boards are eligible for coverage from Access Home Insurance. However, liability coverage associated with the diving board is excluded.

In addition, buying a home in a coastal state can provide another set of challenges. Depending upon where you home is located, you may need to purchase flood insurance for added peace of mind. Access Home Insurance also offers flood insurance. Your agent can provide you with details on this product as well.

If you don’t already have an agent visit us at www.accesshomeinsurance.com to locate an Access Home Insurance agent near you.

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