Peak hurricane season approaching as COVID-19 cases rise
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI), and Craig Fugate, one of the world’s leading experts in emergency management and response, today released an expert perspective examining how COVID-19 will affect ten areas of hurricane preparedness and response.
“The COVID-19 crisis is changing how to prepare for and respond to hurricanes and other natural catastrophes,” said David A. Sampson, president and CEO of APCIA. “APCIA is proud to partner with catastrophe response leaders to offer an expert perspective that will help coastal states review their disaster plans and be ready for the unique complications associated with COVID-19.”
The 10 key areas of natural catastrophe planning during a pandemic include:
· Evacuation planning
· Making homes safer for sheltering in place
· Handling insurance claims virtually
· Changes to the hurricane supply kit
· Opening and operating shelters
· Keeping small businesses open
· Protecting vulnerable populations
· Reducing fraud and contractor abuse after a storm
· Being financially prepared
· Coordinating across industries and government
“As we enter peak hurricane season in the midst of a growing pandemic, residents, communities, and public policymakers at all levels have many challenges ahead,” said Fugate. “It is more important than ever before for people to think through every aspect of their preparedness plan with COVID-19 in mind and offer a helping hand to their vulnerable neighbors to ensure everyone is ready.”
A catastrophic weather event could be devastating to individuals and families that are already dealing with economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, so financial preparedness continues to be critically important. Many home, auto, and business insurers are voluntarily offering policyholder relief arrangements for refunds and discounts, providing flexible payment solutions, waiving insurance premium late fees, and pausing cancellation of coverage.
“Call your insurer if you are going through extraordinary life circumstances and are concerned about being able to pay for your insurance to see what options may be available to you,” added Sampson.
“Residents should also take time to review and understand their policy to make sure they have the right amount of coverage, especially for flooding,” said Ray Farmer, director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance. “The peril of flood is not typically covered in a homeowner’s policy and flood damage can be very costly. Just one inch of water can cause up to $25,000 worth of damages. So, residents should talk to their insurance agent or company about how to mitigate their flood risks.”
Director Farmer added that regulators and insurers are ready to work together to get policyholders on the road to recovery in the event of a hurricane.
The 2020 hurricane season has already broken records, and peak season activity is just around the corner. Additionally, some hurricane-prone states like Texas, Florida, and South Carolina are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases. While it remains imperative that residents follow all evacuation orders from state and local officials, the concern of spreading COVID-19 will likely have many people strongly considering if they can safely ride out a storm at home this season.
“We are not powerless against hurricanes. IBHS research has identified a number of projects home and business owners can take action on in just a few hours, a day, or over this weekend to make their home or business stronger and more resilient against the next storm,” said Roy Wright, president and CEO of IBHS. “This year, more than ever, it is imperative that homeowners and business owners be proactive in doing storm prep to prevent avoidable damage that might force them from their homes for lengthy repairs.”
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Editor’s Note: Sampson, Fugate, Farmer and Wright are available for interviews and to answer questions. Contact Sarah Revell for more information at 850-879-1853 or Sarah.Revell@apci.org.