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Resources for the modern insurance agent

How to Protect Your Clients from Natural Disasters

by Precise Leads

December 13, 2017

Following these tips will shorten the recovery period for your clients.

This past summer’s series of major hurricanes highlighted the importance of preparing for a natural disaster. All told, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused an estimated $100 billion in insured losses, according to Munich Re.

To help their clients rebuild after a catastrophe, insurance agents process payouts in a timely fashion. Even before a disaster strikes, however, agents should work with their clients to protect their property from catastrophic damage. With some pre-planning, your clients will lessen the destruction caused by hurricanes and floods and recover much more quickly.

Inspect the Roof

Much of the destruction produced by hurricanes results from strong winds, which can tear apart roofs and uproot houses. Agents can help their clients in hurricane-prone regions by encouraging them to have their roofs inspected by a professional at least every five years to pinpoint any impaired shingles or weak spots through which rain can seep.

Depending upon local building codes, your client may need to install shingles designed to withstand winds of 110 miles per hour. In addition, make sure that your client securely fastens any roof attachments that could blow away during a hurricane such as solar panels or dish antennas. Your client might also want to consider installing a metal roof that can resist strong storms better than other types of roofing material.

Unclog Gutters

Clogged gutters cannot adequately drain water runoff, which results in water leaking through ceilings and walls. This is especially true when blocked gutters are tasked with handling massive water flow from a severe hurricane. Inadequate drainage further damages roofs when water collects and causes craters in the roof. Regularly clearing gutters and downspouts prevents this damage from occurring.

Trim Trees

Hurricane-force winds sometimes rip large branches from trees, when can land on homes and cars and cause extensive damage to them. Your clients can protect their property from falling tree limbs by trimming overhanging branches larger than eight larger in diameter around their homes. As with roofs, routine inspections by a tree specialist can reveal any unhealthy or weak trees more likely to fall during a storm.

Seal the Basement

To prevent rain from flooding a basement, the first line of defense is sealing the pavement and cement around the home. In some cases, the homeowner may need to purchase a sump pump to place in the basement. If they do install a sump pump, make sure they have a backup generator ready to power the pump if the power goes out and that the device drains downhill and away from the property. Before the storm hits, homeowners should move furniture and other valuable belongings to the upper floors.

Know the Hurricane Deductible in Your State

Standard homeowner policies cover wind damage produced by a hurricane, but in several hurricane-prone states, they may include special deductibles that apply specifically to hurricanes classified by the National Weather Service or National Hurricane Center. These deductibles are typically calculated as a dollar amount or a percentage. Knowing this information will help you inform your client of their financial liability after a storm.

Florida is the only state in which calendar-year deductibles are in force, which means a deductible could be doubled in one calendar year even if the policy extends over several calendar years. For example, a policy in effect from June 1st, 2016 to June 1st, 2017 would have a deductible of $5,000. But if a homeowner files a claim from a hurricane in August 2016 and June 2017, the deductible would be applied twice.

Don’t Forget Your Small Business Clients

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), roughly 40% of small business never resume operations after a disaster. In light of that sobering statistic, encourage your small business clients to develop a business continuity plan so they can continue or restart their operations during or soon after a disaster.

To ensure that important documents aren’t lost or damaged in a disaster, your clients should consider storing contracts and customer data in the cloud. Other measures they can take to protect inventory and equipment include placing sandbags around the building and moving office furnishings to upper floors.

Agents must help their clients before and after a disaster. Taking preventative measures to reduce damage before the storm strikes will shorten the recovery period for them.

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