Brokers and agents generally only think about natural disasters when the claims start coming in, yet your clients will appreciate some timely tips and reminders before disaster season begins.
In many parts of the country, the wildfire season begins in the summer and peaks in August. Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs until early winter. Earthquakes and extreme weather can happen anytime.
You know your area well, and you can assist your clients in protecting their properties as part of the service you provide to your clients. They’ll also appreciate a little nudge in making sure they have the business side of things in order. The following information will aid you in providing added value for your clients as it pertains to preparing for natural disasters.
Reminders for Taking Care of Business Logistics Before Disaster Hits
When a disaster occurs, your clients will need to access their important documents and papers. The time to protect them is before an impending disaster.
No one enjoys filing documents, and a reminder to secure important documents such as insurance policies, business licenses, and customer data could be timely information for your clients.
Here are some tips to pass along to your clients to prepare for any kind of natural disaster:
- Store important documents in the cloud.
- Store hard copies of important documents on the first floor of a building, preferably in a fireproof or waterproof safe.
- Relocate essential electronic devices to higher levels if flooding is a risk and move them away from windows if earthquakes are a risk.
- Secure heavy or fragile items to the floors, walls, or shelves.
- Floodproof basement walls by sealing them with waterproofing compounds.
- Schedule an electrical inspection to ensure the wiring is as safe as possible from flooding and fires.
- Invest in a generator or alternative power source.
- Talk to their broker or agent about getting the right disaster insurance such as flood insurance, wind coverage in states that don’t offer it on standard policies, and commercial umbrella insurance.
While the business side of things is highly important, business owners should also take the necessary preventative measure to protect their physical property.
Reminders for Taking Care of Physical Property Before Disaster Hits
We’ve put together some tips and reminders to share with your clients regarding wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Your clients may already be doing some of these things, yet in sending them information, they’ll know that you’re keeping them top of mind all year long.
Protecting Physical Property from Wildfire
- Keep lawns trimmed to under 4”.
- Remove vegetation to create vertical and horizontal spaces between shrubs and trees.
- Clean up fallen leaves, twigs, needles, pinecones, bark, and small branches.
- Clear brush and tree limbs away from businesses.
- Design landscaping with high moisture, fire-resistant plants, and drought-tolerant landscaping materials.
- Prune overhanging branches.
- Consult with the local fire department about doing prescribed burns.
- Create defensible space zones around buildings such as landscaping with rocks near the building, and putting in concrete, gravel, or stone walkways.
- Choose a room with few windows or doors and make it clean by getting a portable air cleaning machine.
- Remind clients to keep flammable items stored safely.
- Create an emergency evacuation plan for pets and livestock.
- Stock up on food, emergency supplies, and respirators.
- Look up the Air Quality Index at AirNow.
- Keep information on file about temporary shelter locations.
Be sure to mention that landscaping companies can assist with landscaping needs clients can’t manage on their own.
Protecting Physical Property from Hurricanes
- Stock up on supplies such as water, batteries, and hurricane shutters.
- Use mulch sparingly in landscaped areas.
- Trim trees that are overhanging the house, other buildings, and cars.
- Postpone fertilizing the law if a hurricane is possible.
- Prepare to safely store patio furniture, pool equipment, and outdoor plants to prevent them from flying around or going through windows.
- Turn off irrigation systems.
- Try to mow the lawn a few days before a hurricane hits as it will drain more easily and it will be easier to remove debris after the storm.
- If water pools around the house, consider changing the grade of the land so it slopes away from the house or create some sort of mounding around the house to prevent water from entering the building.
Your clients will also appreciate a reminder telling them to be sure landscapers or other contractors are bonded and licensed and they have insurance.
Protecting Physical Property from Earthquakes
- Schedule an appointment with a chimney sweep to check the chimney for safety and stability, particularly if the building was built before 1960.
- Schedule an appointment with a contractor to ensure the building is securely attached to the foundation, particularly if the building was built before 1935.
- Buildings with raised foundations should have shear plywood walls instead of cripple-style walls in the crawlspace.
- Consider installing a retaining wall on sloping yards to prevent backslides and stabilize the ground. This will help prevent washouts, landslides, and mudslides. Another solution for sloping yards is to install artificial grass.
- Install paving stones and gravel to replace concrete patios, walkways, and driveways. These surfaces have more pliability if the ground becomes unstable making it cheaper and easier to replace a small section of the sidewalk or driveway than the entire surface.
Between your business networks and your underwriters, you have access to more resources and information than your clients, so be sure to share it with them in anticipation of a catastrophe and throughout the year.
Resources for Disaster Preparation
You may find the following resources for disaster preparation handy, and you will also want to look for local resources to share with clients.
- Wildfire Smoke Fact Sheet – A resource designed to protect children from wildfire, smoke, and ashes.
- Firesmart Landscaping – Tips on how to landscape properties using fire-safe and fire-resistant plants.
- Enviroflash – Automatic notifications about air quality.
- CDC – Advance steps to take when a wildfire is looming.
- National Interagency Fire Center – An informational whitepaper on how to prepare for a wildfire.
- Weather Underground – Checklists for preparing for a wildfire and preparing buildings for a wildfire disaster.
- Creating a Defensible Space – Instructions on how to create a buffer between the building and fire.
- CDC – Tips on preparing for a hurricane or other tropical storm.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – More tips on preparing for a hurricane.
- Ready – Tips for how to stay safe during a hurricane.
- Red Cross – Tips for how to evacuate and make a safe shelter plan.
- Red Cross – Tips on how to prepare for a wildfire and what to do if people or property are in danger.
- Ready – How to prepare for an earthquake.
- OSHA – Information and resources on earthquakes.
- California Earthquake Authority – Information on earthquake preparedness for homes, children, and businesses.
- Red Cross – What to do if there’s an earthquake and how to talk to children about earthquakes.
- S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Information on how to prepare for and recover from an earthquake.
Assisting With Disaster Planning Strengthens Relationship With Clients
The quality of relationships with your clients counts for a lot. Strong relationships will develop loyal customers and bring in referrals. With every marketing campaign, email, and newsletter you have opportunities to strengthen bonds with your clients.
At NIP Group, we have specialized business insurance policies you can offer to your clients to protect other aspects of their businesses. We also have some great articles on natural disasters on our website. Contact one of our agents to learn more at 866-620-7152.