Plan, prepare and protect

Doesn’t it seem like hurricane season ended just a few days ago? Yet here it is already a month into Hurricane Season 2013. Many of us are going about our normal routine simply thinking, “it won’t happen to me” or “I’ll worry about it later”. Does this sound like you?  

It is important to remember that 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 help get you through the storm and its aftermath.  

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 remind you of things that have changed since last year that you now need to address such as the addition of a pet to the family. 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 Lines 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 the most valuable assets you will ever own so it’s important to be sure you have enough coverage to be able to restore it fully should a loss occur.” 

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 but is only insured for $100,000 means that the house is 50 per cent underinsured. In the event of a covered loss of $50,000, the claim will be penalized 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.  

“The best way to avoid being underinsured is to have your property regularly surveyed by a professional and adjust your sum insured accordingly. Keeping a comprehensive list of your contents and increasing your contents sum insured when needed are also important because they can also be exposed to underinsurance,” added Evelyn. 

To further invest in your protection and safety, plan ahead for the purchase of items such as hurricane shutters, a generator or a chainsaw. These items can be some of the most important things to have to protect your home 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 when demand is high.  

“Installing protective measures may also have an added benefit as many insurance companies, including Island Heritage, offer premium discounts for properties fitted with professionally installed hurricane shutters and/or hurricane-rated windows and doors,” remarked Evelyn. 

If your building is under construction, it should be covered under a Contract Works policy also known as Builder’s Risk insurance. This covers the principal and other interested parties during the course of construction. 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 Lines 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 as an added benefit,” Ricardo said. 

Island Heritage also issues blanket contract works policies. This provides contractors with the means to take out a single policy to cover all of the jobs that his company works on in a 12-month period. Once the construction is complete, Island Heritage can seamlessly 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,” added Ricardo. 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 to help offset the financial consequences a material damage loss. “At a minimum, businesses should consider enough coverage to cover business expenses during temporary closure of at least six to 12 months,” says Ricardo. 

Ricardo went on to advise 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 documented continuity plan in place.” He asserts that the business owner’s preparedness should be a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, 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 Customer Care Centre at the Strand.