Posts Tagged ‘ Emergency Preparedness ’
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:
- Ensure there is a plan for your employees and the plan is communicated effectively. An evacuation plan should be in place and each employee should know exactly what he/she needs to do in the event of an emergency. During evacuation, have a central point of contact for all employees and make sure you know where they are located. Also, create an employee list, including contact numbers for home, cell, email address, and emergency contact information, so you can check on their well-being and communicate next steps.
- Create and maintain lists of pertinent information. Lists are a quick way to have all vital information at your disposal. An emergency outside contact list should include name and phone numbers for fire, police, hospitals, internet provider, building and landlord, etc. Information should be updated at least twice a year and stored outside the office in a secure, accessible location
- Make sure client information is quickly attainable. It’s vital to have a list of insureds and their policies at the ready. A list of insurance carriers and claims department numbers is also helpful to provide clients. All vital records and data should be secured and backed up and a disaster recovery plan for computer systems should be in place. Similar to your home, it’s important to assess your office both inside and outside for safety hazards that can cause increased damage to your business. Sprinklers, smoke detectors, security systems, and generators should all be inspected. In addition, an inventory of your business should be taken prior to a hurricane to make your own claims process faster and easier. Assembling supplies for emergency crews, as well as repairs is also helpful
- Take any necessary steps to hurricane-proof your business. Similar to your home, it’s important to assess your office both inside and outside for safety hazards that can cause increased damage to your business. Sprinklers, smoke detectors, security systems, and generators should all be inspected. In addition, an inventory of your business should be taken prior to a hurricane to make your own claims process faster and easier. Assembling supplies for emergency crews, as well as repairs is also helpful.
- Identify an alternative business site after the storm. If necessary, you may need to move your business to another location for a while. Make sure this site is ready with the necessary equipment to continue operation.
- Be proactive with your clients before the hurricane. It’s important to communicate with your clients and make sure they’re ready. This includes providing information about the claims process, such as listing damages, reminders to take photos, and claims numbers. They should also know the best way to reach you. Creating information in a centralized area on your website offers clients a quick and easy reference.
Being prepared at work, as well as at home, will help you address concerns during the aftermath.
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Your emergency plan should include all family members, including pets. Being prepared can save their lives.
Identify, in advance, a safe place to take your pets:
- Local and state health and safety regulations do not permit the Red Cross to allow pets in disaster shelters. (Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.)
- Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of “pet-friendly” places, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies.
- Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals.
- Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
- Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets during a disaster.
Assemble a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit
Keep your pet’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be easily accessed and carried (a duffle bag for example). Your pet emergency preparedness kit should include:
- Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
- Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
- Pet bed or toys (if easily transportable).
ASPCA Rescue Stickers
The ASPCA offers free rescue sticker to alert police, firemen, etc that pets are inside your home. Place it in a visible spot near your entry way and be sure to include the number and types of pets in your home, as well as your veterinarian’s phone number.
If you must evacuate with your pets (and if time allows) write “EVACUATED” across the stickers so rescue workers don’t waste time looking for them.
Download ASPCA Rescue Stickers
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Any resident of a coastal area can tell you what June 1st means – it’s the beginning of hurricane season. With the date right around the corner, it’s an ideal time to build an emergency survival kit to ensure you’re ready in the event of a hurricane. According to www.ready.gov, here is a list of essential items to include in your kit:
- Water, one gallon per person/pet per day for at least three days
- Non-perishable food, at least a three day supply and a manual can opener
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Family and emergency contact information
- Multipurpose tool, such as a Swiss Army knife
- Whistle to signal for help
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers
- Sleeping bag or blanket for each family member
- Pet food, if needed
- Infant formula and diapers, if needed
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Extra cash
- Extra set of keys for your car and home
- Change of clothing for each family member and rain jacket
- Important personal documents (for example, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, and Access Home homeowner insurance policy)
Make sure to monitor expiration dates on canned food and restock as needed. It’s also a good idea to reassess your kit every year, as family’s needs change.
You may already have some of the basic emergency kit items in your home. The key is to make sure they are organized, easy to find, and easy to carry. If you are a Louisiana policyholder, and you need to purchase items, the 2015 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is Saturday, May 30th and Sunday, May 31st. During this annual holiday, consumers can make tax-free purchases on the first $1,500 of the sales price on a variety of supplies. To view a full list of tax-free items, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov. Unfortunately, South Carolina doesn’t offer a similar tax holiday.
For additional suggestions to help you prepare for hurricane season, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety website at www.disastersafety.org/hurricane.
NOAA has designed the week of May 24th – May 30th as Hurricane Preparedness Week and urges everyone to use this time to prepare, plan and know your evacuation zone. Visit www.nhc.noaa.gov for more information. While forecasters have predicted a quieter than normal hurricane season in 2015, it’s always important to be ready with a plan and supplies so you’re ready if disaster strikes.
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