Your other business policies won’t protect you. Get the coverage you need.

Key takeaways:

  • Your normal suite of business policies doesn’t cover hurricane or flood damage
  • Experts predict there will be three to six major storms this year. That means winds over 111 miles per hour.
  • If you remember Hurricane Michael, it caused more than $7.4 million in insurance claims, and entire towns were almost wiped out.
  • A single inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage

Hurricanes. They are a fact of life for Floridians. Storms are becoming more powerful every year, and in 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is once again sounding the alarm. The agency says there is a 65% chance of an above-normal season. This means 14 to 21 named storms, of which 60% could become hurricanes, and include three to six major storms with winds over 111 miles per hour.

That’s scary. Of course, predictions are just that. Things could be better or worse, but even one hurricane can mean disaster for a business. Hence the importance of hurricane preparedness, and there’s no more important way to prepare than to get the right insurance. What happens without it? Visualize everything you’ve worked so hard for being blown or washed away.

Hurricane insurance isn’t part of your normal business policies, so it’s important to talk to your agent. The season has just begun, so there’s still time. Let’s talk about the things you can do to prepare, what kind of damage a hurricane could do to your business, and most important of all: the insurance you need (both flood and hurricane) to make sure your business weathers any storm.

The damage hurricanes can do

All hurricanes can do damage, but category matters. Hurricanes are put into five categories depending on wind speed, from category one to category five. This is called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Here is the damage that can be caused by each:

Category 1

Don’t be fooled by the low category number. With winds of 74 mph to 95 mph, this category can uproot trees, toss large branches as if they were small sticks, and cause power outages as well as damage to power lines and flooding

Category 2

A category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of 96 mph to 110 mph. Major exterior damage can occur to buildings, shallowly rooted trees will fall and block roads, and you can expect total power loss that lasts from days to weeks. 

Category 3

Now we’re getting into major hurricane territory and devastating damage. Buildings may lose their roofs, trees will be uprooted, and you can count on having no electricity or water for possibly weeks.

Category 4

Category 3 is bad enough, but the 130 mph to 156 mph winds of a category 4 hurricane will cause severe damage to the sturdiest of buildings. Roofs and walls are in danger. Most trees and power poles will be down. Power outages will last weeks to months, and most of the area will be uninhabitable for that period.

Category 5

Remember Hurricane Michael? It was only the fourth category 5 hurricane in U.S. history, and the first since 1992. Insurance claims exceeded $7.4 billion. In Mexico Beach, 1,584 buildings out of a total of 1,692 were damaged, and 809 of these were completely destroyed.

Sobering information and frightening statistics. But you can gain a great deal of peace of mind when you know you’ve taken all the steps to be prepared, including having the proper insurance in place. 

Essential hurricane preparedness steps

We’ll go over the insurance you absolutely must have in the next section, but first, let’s talk about general hurricane preparedness tips. If there’s anything positive to say about hurricanes, it’s that you know they are coming, so you have time to prepare. Here are some things to put on your hurricane preparedness checklist.

The assessment

The potential impact of a hurricane has to be assessed before you can create a checklist. This means looking not only at physical assets but people, including suppliers and your employees.

  • Consider people first. Today’s working environment is more complicated with many employees working from home. This complicates communication, so keep an updated contact list. Also, be sure to educate employees who are new to the area about the dangers of hurricanes. Keeping in touch with everyone can be easier with an emergency communication system.
  • What about suppliers? A hurricane may not directly affect a supplier, especially if they aren’t local, but it will create supply chain disruptions that can disrupt your business. Talk to your vendors and work together on a plan to mitigate interruptions and delays as much as possible.
  • Think about your location and assets. Data is your most valuable business asset. Back it up on the premises, remotely, and also in the cloud. Physical assets such as computers and other valuable equipment can be moved to a safer location when a storm is imminent. Make sure you make a list of everything you want to move so it’s done efficiently.

The emergency plan

Your emergency plan is a huge part of emergency preparedness and can make a difference in how quickly you can get your business back up and running. The most essential component is information. Be sure to have a battery-operated radio with plenty of backup batteries and tune it to a reliable local news station. Next:

  • Form an emergency response team

Just as you likely have people assigned to shepherd people out in case of a fire, you need a team that’s going to put your emergency plan into action. Include a C-level executive, an HR representative, a member of your internal communications team, and any safety and security personnel you might have on staff. 

  • Make sure buildings and people are secure

You are going to want to do the usual – board up windows and doors and place sandbags around the building. Inside, move everything away from windows and doors if possible. When it comes to people, constant communication can prevent unnecessary risks. 

Now that you have a plan in place, let’s talk about a very important hurricane preparedness tip: insurance.

  • Don’t assume you have insurance in place for hurricanes

The business policies you already have in place don’t protect you from hurricanes. To get the protection you need, talk to your insurance agent about two policies: hurricane insurance and flood insurance. Here’s the protection offered by each.

Hurricane insurance covers:

Damage to buildings, including outbuildings.

The contents of the building, including furnishings and fixtures. Some types of equipment may not be covered, so be sure to clue in your agent on what you use in your business.

Computers and electronic equipment are often covered in a commercial hurricane insurance policy

Inventory and cargo damage 

Equipment such as machinery, vehicles, and tools. Be sure to check with your agent, especially when it comes to vehicle coverage.

What’s excluded? Flood damage. Let’s take a look at what you need to be completely covered.

Flood insurance

Neither your commercial property insurance nor your hurricane policy covers flooding. This requires a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. This is a good policy to add to your other business policies because floods can happen at any time, not just during hurricanes.

A single inch of floodwater can cause $25,000 worth of damage. Make sure you’re covered. This coverage can be purchased from your current insurance agent.

Hurricane preparedness requires a multi-phase approach, from battening down the hatches in your building to making sure your people are protected – it’s a big responsibility. Having the right insurance can help you sleep at night knowing you’re protected against Florida’s most dangerous storms. 

Avante: We have your back, no matter which way the wind blows

We’re Florida natives who know hurricanes and the devastating damage they can cause. Let’s sit down and make sure you have all the coverage you need in case the worst happens. We’ll help you get your business up and running as quickly as possible after the storm.

At Avante, we’ll work with you to build the comprehensive business coverage you need with a deductible that works for you. Reach out today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. At Avante, we’re always standing by.

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.