Prepare to protect

Evelyn Tibbetts-Farrar, Island Heritage’s personal underwriting manager, and Ricardo Bodington, commercial underwriting manager at Island Heritage advise how to prepare for hurricane season. 

With June just behind us, we’re already a month into hurricane season. Most of us are going about our routine simply thinking, “it won’t happen to me, not here, not again.” What you should instead ask yourself is, “Have I taken the necessary steps to prepare?” 

Before and during hurricane season, preparation is the most important thing you can do. Should a hurricane strike, it will be your planning and preparation that get you through the storm and its aftermath. Luckily, it’s not too late to start preparing. 

Begin by speaking to your family about your disaster plans. Talking things over with your partner and children will give everyone a clear picture of what needs to be done. It may also bring up some new suggestions or point out flaws in last year’s preparation. Schedule a trip to the hardware, grocery and drug store this weekend! Don’t wait until a hurricane watch or warning is issued and your family is forced to compete with the masses for supplies. 

Another important step that should not be overlooked is checking your insurance coverage.  

Evelyn Tibbetts-Farrar, Island Heritage’s personal underwriting manager, advises you to, “read over your policy carefully or call into your provider for assistance and make sure you are adequately covered. Your home is one of your most valuable assets so it’s important to protect it.” 

Consider upgrades that you’ve made to your home over the years and contents that you’ve added. If these costs are not reflected in your current amount covered, you may be underinsuring your home. Underinsurance is a condition that is found on most insurance policies. It occurs when a customer has not insured the true replacement cost of an item. For instance, a house that has a true replacement cost of $200,000 is only insured for $100,000. This means that the house is 50 per cent underinsured. In the event of a covered loss of $50,000, the claim will be penalised by 50 per cent. Because of this the customer would only receive $25,000 and would be out of pocket for the remainder of the replacement costs.  

“To be safe and ensure that you are not underinsured, you should have your property professionally surveyed,” adds Tibbetts-Farrar. 

To further invest in your protection and safety plan ahead for the purchase items of items such as hurricane shutters, a generator or a chainsaw. These can be some of the most important things to have and should be considered an investment. Planning for them and working them into your budget before hurricane season can ease the financial strain of getting them.  

“Installing protective hurricane measures may also have an added benefit as many insurance companies, including Island Heritage, offer premium discounts for better protected homes, including those with hurricane shutters and or hurricane-rated windows and doors,” remarks Tibbetts-Farrar. 

If your building is under construction during hurricane season, it should be covered under a Contract Works policy. This covers contractors or building owners during the construction of the property. Much like Island Heritage’s home owner’s policy, it provides cover for a variety of perils that may cause material damage, including hurricanes.  

Ricardo Bodington, Island Heritage’s Commercial Underwriting manager, deals daily with business owners, including contractors and their varying insurance needs. “Contract works policies are issued up to a maximum of 18 months, but can be taken out for as little as three months. Workers compensation and public liability on-site can also be added to a contract works policy,” he adds. 

Island Heritage also issues blanket contract works policies. This means that a contractor could take out one policy to cover all of the jobs that his company works on in a 12-month period. Once the construction is complete Island Heritage also makes it easy to convert your Contract Works policy into a Heritage Home or Business Policy. 

“Of course insurance is of utmost importance to the business owner as well,” adds Bodington. One should make sure their plan covers their buildings, plants and machinery, computer equipment, stock and furniture, fixtures and fittings.” 

A business owner should also consider adding Business Interruption coverage to their plan as it will cover them in the event operations must cease for a period of time. “At a minimum, businesses should consider enough coverage to cover business expenses during temporary closure of at least six to 12 months,” says Bodington. 

He further advises that in gearing up for hurricane season, business owners have an extra step to take to protect their business. “In order to prepare for a disaster, a business should first have a continuity plan in place.” He asserts that the business owner’s preparedness should be a continuous cycle of planning, organising, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective action. All of this will ensure effective coordination before, during and after a disaster.  

If you have questions regarding insurance coverage for your home or business call Island Heritage or visit their office in the Strand Shopping Centre.