An Ounce of Prevention

An Ounce of Prevention …

By taking steps to plan ahead for severe weather, residential property managers can save both owners and renters from unnecessary headaches.

By Scott McCurdy

It’s official: the Atlantic Hurricane Season is here. This year’s forecast predicts an above average year for hurricane activity with some experts calling for a “very active” season. Weather Services International predicted 18 named storms, with 10 hurricanes. Of those, five are expected to become major hurricanes — classified as a Category 3 or higher.

Of course, nothing can be done to stop a hurricane from coming, but property managers can make advanced preparations to ensure quick repairs and help residents meet the challenges brought about by natural disaster damage.

Ready to Respond

Every property manager should consider a well-thought-out emergency plan as part of his property management duties. Securing valuable resources — such as disaster contractors — before severe weather strikes is an essential part of any natural disaster strategy. Damaged roofs and walls, broken windows, flooding and mold all require contractors with different expertise, but disaster contractors can bundle all these services — even coordinating multiple sub-contractors for their clients — and thereby remove extra hassle from an already stressful situation.

Establishing a valued relationship with a disaster contractor prior to any severe weather issues can help you be ready when severe weather strikes. The value of having a contractor on board before Mother Nature wreaks havoc on your watch is that a relationship will have already been established and parameters set in regards to expectations.

Unfortunately, in certain scenarios, it’s simply not possible to avoid property damage or destruction. Even with a solid emergency plan in place, you most likely will need assistance in trying to fix something that has been broken. Specializing in catastrophe management, disaster contractors are the first to respond if damage is reported. Whether it’s wind damage from a hurricane, lightning damage from a thunderstorm or water damage from persistent rain, disaster contractors can begin the restoration process quickly and efficiently.

Covering Your Bases

The best way to protect your property is to make sure that it’s fully insured against all types of damage, however it may occur. You also should strongly recommend (or even require) that all tenants carry renters insurance. Many renters assume their personal property is covered under the building plan, which isn’t the case. Let them know upon lease signing that they’re responsible for covering their own personal property.

Since the hurricanes of 2005, many hurricane and wind deductibles have increased. In fact, some of the larger insurance companies are pulling out of Florida because they can’t make money. Nevertheless, it’s vital that residents find insurers who will properly cover them for the different losses they may encounter. Hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires all occur in Florida; therefore all coverage related to the damage caused by these natural disasters must be considered.

No season goes by in Florida without some severe weather or natural disaster, but by researching in advance, you can cover your bases and provide the proper protection for your residential property.

Property Manager’s Hurricane Checklist

● Review insurance policies for any new clauses. For example, some companies no longer cover homes that have been vacant for more than 30 days.

● Become familiar with insurance deductibles for all claims.

● Make sure the insurance policy includes Law and Ordinance (Code Upgrade) provisions.

● Establish a relationship with a disaster contractor.

● Encourage renters to purchase renter’s insurance.

● Check vacant units prior to the storm, and shut off their power and water.

● Keep an updated list of disabled residents and their addresses.

● Distribute a list of hurricane preparedness guidelines for residents; include evacuation plans.

● Make sure shrubs and trees are trimmed to reduce potential debris.

● If a swimming pool is on property, place pool furniture in it.

Scott McCurdy is the President of Business Relations for Coastal Reconstruction Group. Coastal Reconstruction’s Rapid Response services provide post-disaster reconstruction to residential and commercial structures throughout the Southeastern U.S. For more information, visit www.coastalreconstruction.com.