Hurricane Irma has devastated Florida and caused untold billions — some say as much as $200 billion — in damages. People were told to evacuate. Some people did. Others did not. In Houston and surrounding areas, people were told to evacuate because of Hurricane Harvey. Like Hurricane Irma, some did. Some did not.
A different kind of storm is hitting the West. Cities around the West are being threatened by fire. Authorities are telling people to pack up and get out or face great harm or even death.
The point? We are sometimes in an instant told it is time to pack up and leave and we are ill-prepared for that announcement and for disaster. We tend to think it always happens to someone else.
One of the reasons people don’t leave is because they are not prepared and don’t know what to take and what to leave. Or if they leave all of the sudden, key and critical items are left.
Some of us just hunker down. But hunkering down often means we have no idea what it will take to survive a long, maybe dangerous event without services like water, electricity, etc. We also don’t think how we’re going to eat during a one, two or even three-week disaster.
Lisa Lindsay is the executive director of Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). It is a non-profit firm that basically offers advice, coverage and service to high net worth insurance consumers.
Her advice to them shared via an article Weekly Industry News found on National Underwriter’s PropertyCasualty360.com — however — is good advice for consumers whether they are wealthy or poor. Since your customers — like most — probably aren’t good at planning, her advice is good advice for you to share with them.
“For most insurance agents and brokers, the preparedness topic quickly translates to disaster preparedness. You know, that annual conversation you have with your client right before hurricane season starts on June 1. Or maybe it’s the conversation you have with your client prior to wildfire season or spring flooding. Whatever triggers a preparedness conversation, the fact is that most advisors are simply scratching the surface,” she wrote.
Her advice is to — in advance — look beyond the obvious and help your clients assess risks based on their family and lifestyle. Once that is established then Lindsay says create actionable steps to take when an emergency hits. Here’s what she believes is a place to start when helping your clients create a plan. Figure out:
• The emergencies most likely to happen
• An action plan
• A communication plan
• Personal safety
• Protection of property
• Weather-related events — floods, tornadoes, winter storms, landslides, etc
• The failure of infrastructures — electricity, water, sewer
• Travel troubles
• Terrorist threats
Once emergency potential is identified — create a plan for each possible emergency:
Each member of the family will have an assigned role and responsibility in the plan. Here’s what Lindsay says you need for that plan:
• Who is responsible for the disaster kit
• Who monitors news and updates
• Who is in charge of pets
• Who manages family documentation
• Who manages family medication
• Who keeps the family contact and communication plan up to date
• Who is responsible for the protection of property
Next is a detailed communication plan. This is where you make sure everyone is accounted for and that they are safe and that you have access to the resources necessary for survival:
• Names and contact info for all family members
• Where to meet if an evacuation is necessary
• If children are involved what schools and where
• Emergency contact info for family members outside of the local area
Lindsay said a good communication plan means you need to be asking questions like, “If something happens during the workday, where are my family members likely to be, and how will we stay connected if we are not together? This question should be considered for everyone in the family and should account for different schedules based on the time of day.”
Personal safety. Here are some questions she says need to be asked about the home:
• Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors — are they working?
• Do we regularly test them?
• Fire extinguishers — are they working?
• Do we all know where they are and how to use them?
Personal safety when traveling:
• Who is responsible for keeping up to date on pending danger like wildfires, acts of terror, etc.?
Documents are critical, too. The website Smart About Money says people also need to plan to protect valuables and important documents. Things to track:
• Legal certificates
• Powers of attorney
• Insurance policies — of course
• Social Security cards
• Bank account information
• And your checkbook & credit cards
• If you can’t take them with you, put them in a safe or a well-protected place
Protect your home. On its website, the City of Virginia Beach said a number of things that need done.
• Itemize your furniture and clothing
• Itemize other valuables
• Make a video recording of your valuables or at the very least take pictures
• Learn how to shut off your utilities
Lindsay takes that a step farther:
• Who is responsible for removing what valuable items from the home?
• If the property remains on site who is in charge of making it secure and safe from damage?
• If staying in the home during the emergency who is responsible for making sure back up battery power is available or that the home generator is working and ready to go?
These are the things she says you should be talking with your clients about and it’s a good PR move to give them a hand and help them be ready. “Raising awareness and helping your client create a personal preparedness plan is crucial to maintaining a personal risk management strategy. The plan should be detailed and specific and should cover all potential risks that can be monitored, updated and tested regularly,” Lindsay wrote.
Key words: updated and tested regularly.
Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Smart About Money, City of Virginia Beach