Hurricane Disaster Planning 2017 - Suggestions from an insurance claim expert
by Charles R. Tutwiler on 6/7/2017
“Recovery from a hurricane is a difficult, long term process,” says Craig Fugate, former FEMA National Emergency Management Director.
Listening to all the pundits talk and write about 2017 hurricane disaster planning, I was reminded about the former big Wall Street brokerage firm, E. F. Hutton and their tag line that ran with commercials some years ago. It went like this, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
As background, back in the day there were a series of colorful TV commercials that clearly sent a message to their clients and prospective customers that when the folks at this firm were talking, you best pay attention. In other words, they were the insiders and when they spoke, you knew from a financial perspective you were getting the scoop.
So who would not want to pay attention (especially with the revised 2017 hurricane season predictions) to the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.), Mr. Craig Fugate. This gentleman, a Florida native, ran F.E.M.A. as its National Director for eight years and before that served in various positions including the head of Florida Emergency Management Division during the big four storms in 2004. When it comes to disaster management, this is a man who has seen it all, so he knows the impact disasters can inflict and the recovery process. So Craig Fugate who was on duty for some of this country’s biggest, costly, and deadliest natural disasters is in my book a guy to listen to when he speaks.
When I read an article that published Mr. Fugate’s remarks related to a presentation he made about hurricanes and the long recovery period, I paid attention. Why? Because like Mr. Fugate I have seen and been involved in many of this country’s natural disasters and I know what he said is the truth and is solid advice for folks who live in harm’s way, like in the State of Florida!
So here are a few of the points from his presentation that are in my view important.
1. Understand Insurance: At first this would seem a daunting task for the average property owner given the complexity of property insurance policy terms and conditions. But the simple message is that you need to have some familiarization with what is and is not covered per your policy. As an example, are you in a flood zone and do you have flood insurance? Know the difference between a flood which means you will need a NFIP flood policy versus a water loss that a standard homeowner policy may cover. Don’t wait to the last minute before checking on coverage. You may not be able to adjust your coverage due to time restrictions with an approaching storm.
2. Take Care of Yourself: Pace yourself. The first days and weeks after a storm are the most dangerous period. In 2004 and 2005 the leading cause of death was head trauma. People falling from ladders and roofs were cited as the cause. This was followed by heart attacks due to the stress and strain of folks trying to deal with all the issues related to the recovery period.
3. Avoid Scams: When disasters strike, they often bring out the best in people. But some bad actors will view a community’s loss as a prime opportunity to scam people in ways that are almost unbelievable. To avoid a second disaster, keep your eye on the money, your money. In one form or another, the bad guys are always looking for ways to get your money. And remember, I do not care about what is said or promised, your life will not be back overnight to the way it was before the loss. So be on-guard.
4. Know Your Neighbors: As Mr. Fugate says, “Sometimes just going over and talking to a neighbor does more good than just about anything else we could do to help us through the tough times.” I agree. While knowledge and information is power, the more you share with others in your community, the more likely it will help ensure a recovery free of scams and frauds.
So there you have it, short and to the point. While this is a not a comprehensive disaster recovery plan list, it hopefully will get you thinking about establishing your own disaster plan or updating a current one. The details you need to recover will likely be specific to your community, your business and your home. And in my view, your geographic location is the common denominator for all disaster planning as it is important to realize and understand your risk exposure in relationship to your physical location.
The time is now. Review Mr. Fugate’s suggestions; fill in the sections that need addressing to protect you, your family, your neighbors and your communities. Hopefully his comments will get you thinking on a sustainable disaster recovery plan for the 2017 hurricane season. No question about it, there is always a lot of noise at the start of hurricane season from pundits far and wide, but when Craig Fugate speaks, people need to listen…and “please,” make a plan!
If you have questions regarding disaster planning or any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster insurance claim experts.