Disaster Preparedness and Community Security

Disaster Preparedness and Community Security

Published June 2022

Photo by iStockphoto.com/estt

     Editor’s Note: Prepare now for natural disasters by checking that the information provided by several service providers has been included in your preparedness plan. Also incorporate the following advice to make your community safer and more secure both physically and financially.

Preparation Tips for a Natural Disaster 
By Regan Marock, LCAM

     Communication is essential before, during, and after a natural disaster. Collect updated information for all residents and develop a communication plan for residents and property staff. Communicate with your local police authorities so that there is a line of communication open throughout the event. Talk to your landscaping company and companies that service building systems, such as elevators, before a storm. You want them to be ready to come to your property after a storm if there is damage.

     Do a pre-season visual inventory of your property to be prepared for any insurance claims that may be needed after a storm. Ensure pertinent property information is backed up, secure, and remotely accessible. Mandatory evacuation means mandatory. Know your municipality’s evacuation zone, route, and shelter locations, and communicate this information to residents.

     It is not always wise to rush back to your property. Some systems may not yet be fully operational, such as air conditioning or elevator systems. 

     Regan Marock, LCAM, is senior vice president with AKAM. For more information, call (954) 843-2526, email rmarock@akam.com, or visit www.AKAM.com.

Inspecting Your Trees to Reduce Risk before the Storm
By Ronnie Simpson, BCMA

     During a major storm event even healthy, well-cared-for trees can fail. The key to managing trees for storms is to understand that trees have natural defects. Identifying and mitigating these defects could prove to be the difference between damage or destruction to community property, private property, or other valuable infrastructure. The idea of pruning trees or palms to prepare for storm season is nothing more than a false sense of security for homeowners and community leaders. When trees and palms are over pruned, they could actually be more susceptible to failures during a storm or hurricane. We always recommend our clients have a certified arborist who is also qualified in tree risk assessment to perform an annual inspection on your trees to identify potential risk. It’s best to have a consulting arborist who does not perform tree services do the inspections. They won’t be motivated to sell tree services. 

     Ronnie Simpson is a board certified master arborist SO-1906B with Arborology Inc. For more information, visit www.arborologyinc.com.

Be Informed before You Make a Costly Decision
By George Ring, COO

     Having attended more Zoom meetings than ever over the last couple of years, I have become disheartened by how many contractors are out there telling “non truths.” I don’t want to call them liars, but it is hard to ignore comparing the final product against what was promised! Please make sure that when you are investigating any contractors that you research where they are from. We have a “gypsy” group of contractors that tap into our Florida revenue stream, do the work haphazardly and poorly, and then walk away before the communities realize they were taken advantage of. 

     With the upcoming hurricane season approaching, many contractors are out there looking to get the free money but without having your best interest at heart. Go to Sunbiz.org and research your contractors. If their principles (president, owner, etc.) are in another state or they are working with a PO box, be careful! 

     We Floridians are used to the constant tourism traffic, but when they start taking advantage of our communities, I must speak up. The evidence is clear, but you just must look past the low prices, do your own research, and check their references. There are many contractors stating they are authorized to work in areas where they aren’t, but no one checks. Research, investigate, look for references, and become informed before you make a decision that will cost you more money to fix! 

     George Ring is chief operating officer for Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems. For more information, visit www.Asphaltnews.com or call (800) 254-4732.

Don’t Be Caught Unaware
By Will Simons, RS, EBP

     Prior to hurricane season, make sure that all emergency generators, fire alarm systems, and other life-safety components are functional. Keep spare parts on hand if possible and make it clear who will be responsible for maintaining vital equipment. When a storm hits, you will have to rely on these systems to perform, so make sure you won’t be caught unaware. Don’t put off preventive maintenance, and be sure to test your equipment regularly. Edu-cate residents on what is expected to work on generator power and what they might have to live without, so everyone can prepare accordingly. From a financial point of view, it’s very wise to obtain an emergency line of credit now, so if you do have some unforeseen cleanup or insurance deductible costs, you won’t have to get in line with hundreds (or thousands) of other communities. 

     Will Simons, RS, EBP, is a credentialed reserve specialist and president of the Florida regional office of Association Reserves, a national provider of reserve study services. For more information, visit www.ReserveStudy.com, email wsimons@reservestudy.com, or call (954) 210-7925.

Best Practices for Use of Video Cameras
By Robyn Severs

     If an association undertakes the use of video cameras for its community, it should consider the following issues and measures:

  1. Determine if membership approval is necessary for installation or use of cameras.
  2. Ensure the equipment reliably indicates the date and time at which any video was recorded.
  3. Establish and follow procedures regarding proper installation, inspections, maintenance, testing, operation, and security.
  4. Establish and follow procedures for logging, storing, viewing, and destroying recordings.
  5. Establish policy for access to recordings.
  6. Review/update policies and procedures annually.
  7. Place cameras in open and obvious locations for viewing public, not private, areas.
  8. Ensure the system is of sufficient quality to produce high-resolution images.
  9. Post signs conspicuously near cameras to inform persons that cameras are in use.
  10. Contact law enforcement concerning the use of such cameras.
  11. Consult with your insurance carrier.

     Robyn M. Severs is a shareholder with Becker. To reach her, call (904) 423-5372 or email RSevers@beckerlawyers.com.

When a Little Becomes a lot! 
By Bob Coy

     A small hole becomes a root canal, and a discolored mole becomes cancer; if you don’t change the oil in your car, then you’ll need a new engine. In each case, maintenance is the simple solution before a more dramatic and costly solution is made. Your roof is the same. A small hole, if detected, stays small and is easily repaired. 

     Save yourself the pain, expenses, and headache of a major roof disaster. When you wait for heavy rains and strong hurricane-force winds, it’s too late. Experienced eyes on your roof will see issues you’ll fail to see. Really, most of us never think about our roof, and most of us have never been on our roof. We would rather not. 

     If you are looking for a legitimate, licensed, affordable roofer after a storm…you are out of luck. The good ones are serving those they have a relationship with. It’s time. Make the call. Building a service relationship with a company that can be trusted is your next step.

     Bob Coy is vice president of marketing at Best Roofing. For more information, email bcoy@bestroofing.net or visit www.bestroofing.net.

Is Your Association Ready for a Hurricane?
By Dan Tiernan, COO

     Being fully prepared for hurricane season is not a simple task. As we enter into the season, you need to double check and make sure that your community is fully prepared.

  • Do you have a written PLAN? This is where it all starts. Many of us are familiar with the saying, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”
  • Have you PREPARED for the season? Once you have the plan, you must execute it. Trim all trees, check each generator (fuel included), verify supplies, and inspect each drainage system for any potential blocks. Don’t forget to make sure all key vendors are prepared, too.
  • Do you know what to do immediately BEFORE the storm? What items need to be secured and who needs to do it? Do hurricane shutters need to be deployed? How do you communicate this information with residents?
  • How do you operate DURING the storm? What are the responsibilities of the board, staff, and owners during the storm? What should people expect? Should owners be advised on what foods and/or supplies they should stock up on?
  • What do you do AFTER the storm? How do you contact your key vendors in case of issues? Have you established a response/priority level? How, when, and what do you communicate with owners?

     Dan Tiernan is COO with Campbell Property Management. For more information, call (954) 427-8770 or visit www.CampbellMGT.com.

Hurricanes and Pandemics and Active Shooters, OH MY!
By Gianna (deCastro) Rahmani, LCAM, PCAM

     From natural phenomena to acts of terror, you must remain calm. While easier said than done, your ability to stay cool under pressure depends on the amount of preparation you’ve put in.

     The key to disaster preparedness is having a plan that includes steps to take before disaster strikes, evacuation routes, resources for supplies and information, communication methods, risk assessments, cleanup, etc. Identify your emergency response team who can help you through the disaster from rescue and recovery to redevelopment and continuity when the “storm” passes. Once you have a comprehensive plan that covers acts of God to acts of man and one that is customized to your community, you and your team should train and hold drills often. 

     There truly is no place like home, and with the help of your community management company, your disaster preparedness plan and emergency response procedures will help protect your most valuable assets.

     For more information about Castle Group, call (800) 337-5850 or visit www.castlegroup.com.

Safeguard Your Association Finances for Hurricane Season
By Vicki Jennings

     As you begin preparing for the 2022 hurricane season, it’s a good idea to also be sure you’re financially ready for the unexpected.    

     Create a financial checklist with a review of your reserves, emergency or disaster funding, and current account status. 

     Strengthening your reserve accounts could help if you need to pay contractors for cleanup or to address other storm-related damage. 

     If you haven’t yet, consider creating a reserve account specifically for natural disaster mitigation.    

     Also consider whether you have funds set aside to cover any insurance deductibles. 

     Don’t forget to keep your financial data safe, ideally with backups in a secure, cloud-based storage location, and keep any physical copies in a waterproof container that’s ready to go with you.

     Being prepared is the best plan for weathering any storm, and taking smart steps now can help keep your association ready for this year’s hurricane season.

     Vicki Jennings is a regional account executive at CIT, a division of First Citizens Bank. For more information, visit www.cit.com.

     The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIT, a division of First Citizens Bank.

Prepare Your Landscape for a Storm
By Down To Earth Landscape & Irrigation

     Although we cannot predict when a hurricane will strike, we can be prepared for it. For any community, it is important to have a landscaping company that is trained to both prepare landscapes before and assist with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

     Following are ways to prepare for a storm:

  • Make sure storm drains are free of debris.
  • Ensure gutters are not in danger of dismantling and are in proper condition to direct water.
  • Prune and brace trees to withstand strong winds.
  • Have certified arborists check landscapes for hazardous trees.
  • Remove any broken and dead branches so they do not turn into hazards when the winds pick up speed. 

     Despite proper preventive measures, a landscape could turn into a safety hazard after a hurricane, depending on the intensity of the storm. It is best to involve certified professionals for the bigger tasks like checking trees for broken branches and seeing if they have been damaged enough to warrant removal.

     For more information on Down To Earth Landscape & Irrigation, call (321) 263-2700 or visit dtelandscape.com.

Get Ready Now!
By Ed Williams, RRC

     Have you noticed that storms are getting stronger and more frequent? Forecasters are telling us that the upcoming hurricane season will be busier than last year. The time to get ready for that is now. Have your roof inspected for any loose or damaged areas, including air conditioners, exhaust fans, and lightning protection. Lightning protection is a valuable asset to a building but is easily damaged by workers or falling limbs. Inspections should also include observation of trees and any other vegetation that could be damaged in a storm and further damage the roof. Air conditioners, especially in coastal areas, may rust badly, and straps at the bottom may no longer be sufficient to hold the unit down during the storm. In this case a strap that goes all the way over the unit may be required. This applies to any other roof penetration that may be dislodged during a storm.

     Ed Williams is a registered roof consultant. For more information, visit EdWilliamsRegisteredRoofConsultant.com or call (772) 335-5832.

When Access Management Operations Should Not Be Normal
By Brie Shouppe

     It’s not what some communities like to hear, but gates and barrier arms at an entrance should not be operating as normal when a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching. Easy ingress and egress are far more important for residents and emergency personnel than complete access management. Although a gate system should be programmed to open automatically in the event of a power failure, you can take extra precautions by opening gates, securing them, and turning off breakers. This protects the equipment, prevents pieces from becoming projectiles in high winds, and assists with evacuations when applicable. 

     Communicate with community members and staff prior to each storm season. Keeping residents and staff informed of the association’s preparedness and plans will ease concerns when a severe storm threat is present and ensure efficiency. This includes knowing how or by whom an entrance, amenity, or other location will be secured. 

     Brie Shouppe is director of marketing & business development for Envera Systems. For more information, call (855) 380-1274 or visit www.EnveraSystems.com. 

Don’t Forget to Meet about Your Deductibles 
By Jonathan Goldstein

     In the process of procuring and renewing insurance, associations establish deductibles that could have tremendous monetary implications in the event of a hurricane. However, this ultimate determination of the annual deductibles must occur in the sunshine long before the storm hits. Boards are required to establish the number of deductibles at a meeting of the board in the manner required by Section 718.112(2)(e), Florida Statutes. This means that the meeting to formally vote on and discuss deductibles must occur within 14 days of notice, like a budget or special assessment meeting. This meeting requirement increases transparency and promotes reasonable deliberation and accountability.

     The deductibles must be consistent with industry standards and prevailing practice for communities of similar size and age and have similar construction and facilities in the locale where the condominium property is situated. Deductibles should also be based upon a consideration of the level of available funds, including reserves, and predetermined assessment authority. 

     If a storm hits and the deductibles become a point of controversy, the association will be glad that the determination of those deductibles was made in a legally compliant and transparent fashion. This could go a long way in establishing that the board exercised reasonable business judgment and promoted buy-in from the membership.

     Jonathan Goldstein is a partner at Haber Law. For more information, call (305) 379-2400 or visit www.haber.law.

The Disaster that Can be Avoided
By Mark Beatty

     Being prepared for a natural disaster is a sensible thing to do, but it’s more likely for private communities to face financial disaster with a lack of funding due to maintenance mismanagement.

     What can you do to ensure that your community is taking the proper steps to avoid a financial disaster? We see it when communities have mismanaged roadway and parking lot assets. If you’re not managing these assets with a preservation plan, you must be budgeting for placement. Replacement costs are rocketing-up like everything else these days, but the price tags are significant and can lead to a real financial crisis. Having a long-term preservation strategy in place will avoid this potential disaster. 

     Mark Beatty is senior vice president at Holbrook Asphalt Company. For more information, email mark@holbrookasphalt.com to get directed to an accredited advisor who can guide you with effective asphalt preservation planning to support your reserve study.

Fiber Is Underground and Resilient
By Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM

     Natural disasters such as a hurricane will pose different issues for community associations. One thing is certain: if you have a written plan, it will help you stay connected before, during, and after the disaster strikes. An internet service provider that offers a fiber optic network and infrastructure is unaffected by weather. Fiber is underground and resilient! 

     Another important factor is 24/7 monitoring of the system. If the power goes out, make sure your provider offers a generator system for the network and redundancy and security monitoring via an app, which will provide you the opportunity to monitor your system from anywhere. 

     Increased bandwidth capacity enables other IOT- (internet of things) functions such as monitoring of water level rise, carbon monoxide levels, and smart devices within the home in addition to managed Wi-Fi services in common areas, which enable Smart Community Functions for emergencies such as smart lighting, gunshot detection, etc.

     Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM is director of community association relations with Hotwire Communications. For more information, visit www.hotwirecommunications.com.

The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

Set Up a Free Insurance Pre-loss Conference 
By Richard Hunter

     Hurricane season is just around the corner! However, each and every year insurance companies are eliminating certain types of coverage, reducing coverage, increasing deductibles, increasing premiums, and inserting New York arbitration provisions. With these types of issues at play, and potentially devastating damage to a condominium association’s property, it is important for boards of directors to stay on top of the coverage in your association policy. To the extent an association allows insufficient coverage, it is possible for the board members to face legal actions for breach of fiduciary duties to the association. How-ever, Hunter Claims is here to help. If you would like to set up a free lunch and learn or Zoom seminar, the public adjusters at Hunter Claims will review your policy and discuss what is covered in the event of a loss. 

     Please call or email us today! 

     To learn more about Hunter Claims, call (813) 774-7634 or send an email to richard@hunterclaims.com today.

Procedures in Place
By Sundeep Jay, RS

     Hurricane season is upon us again!  Whether for hurricane, tornado, flood, or a major thunderstorm, it is important to have procedures in place that will help guide the property manager and the board in securing the association’s assets.

     Knowing where and when to shut off the main electrical box can help prevent a major fire. This should only be done by a licensed electrician or the building maintenance engineer. The board should also consider changing all normal window and door types to hurricane impact glass. When a major storm is approaching, the time needed to either board up windows or put up hurricane shutters could be time given to your employees to help protect their own families. 

     Financial planning should also be considered well in advance of hurricane season. Cleanup and securing the building from further damage after the storm can be quite costly.

     Sundeep Jay is a reserve specialist and senior reserve analyst for J.R. Frazer Inc. For more information, call (561) 488-3012.

What to Know About Sliding Glass Doors
By Jim Emory, PE, SI 

     When it comes to structural maintenance, there are many areas to monitor and consider, but a process that comes up with a high degree of confusion and misperception is the selection and installation of sliding glass doors.

     Sliding glass doors are a critical component of the building envelope, and not all doors are created equal, even if code compliant; attributes to consider and compare include water-resistance rating, corrosion resistance, and finish specifications for coastal environments. 

     Additionally, it is important to follow and monitor installation requirements, as many key aspects of installation are hidden once completed. During installation, fastener type/size and internal sealants should be inspected. Improperly installed doors are more likely to exhibit concrete spalling damage under the door and inside the living space due to water intrusion.

     Finally, the project should include a plan for the exterior finish work and protection of surrounding areas including the balcony floor finishes. 

     Jim Emory, PE, SI (special inspector) is president of Keystone Engineering. For more information, call (321) 454-7300 or visit KeystoneEngineeringPE.com.

Early Hurricane Preparation Key During Inflation Cycle
By Tim O’Keefe, Executive Director

     This year, we are encouraging community managers and board members to get even more of a head start on hurricane preparation than usual as inflation is driving up costs for everything from individual food items to gasoline and generators. Hurricane preparedness is not a good place to cut corners because of costs.

     Now is the time to review budgets and update the costs of all necessary equipment and supplies and determine whether your association needs to fund reserves or boost existing reserves. Beyond inflation, reserve funding might be required to cover insurance deductibles or storm-related repairs. Other important items for the hurricane season checklist include confirming the availability of key vendors, establishing a strong communication plan, reviewing existing insurance policies and coverage, and taking photos and videos of common areas. 

     This year, especially, the failure to be proactive with hurricane preparation could be extremely costly—literally and figuratively.

     For more information on KW PROPERTY MANAGEMENT & CONSULTING, contact Tim O’Keefe at (786) 910-4226, email tokeefe@kwpmc.com, or visit www.kwpmc.com.

Hurricane Preparedness Plan—Here’s Where to Start
By Eddie Vargas, CAM, Divisional Director

     As Floridian homeowners, we have to be constantly aware of the potential risks of a hurricane. Before hurricane season begins each year, board members should review their community’s emergency plan. If you do not currently have a plan in place, making one should be a priority. Here are some key points you’ll want to include that will help save valuable time in the event of an emergency.

Pre-Hurricane Season

  1. Communicate with residents and vendors in advance to inform them what steps will be needed to protect the association’s property and assets.
  2. Ensure approval is in place for contracted services.
  3. Schedule community inspections by any vendor services related to hurricane preparation. Documentation is key here.

Pre-Storm Preparation

  1. Communicate to residents what protocols will be followed pre-storm and post-storm.
  2. Communicate with your employees, vendors, and volunteers to ensure they are preparing to secure the amenities and common grounds.
  3. Prepare a pre-storm checklist. Be sure to include contact details of board and committee members, a list of vendors, and insurance policy details.

Post-Storm Review

  1. Initiate a preliminary assessment of any damage to the community with your pre-determined community contact (board or committee member).
  2. Contact insurance companies and report claims as needed.
  3. Prioritize repairs and contact your association vendors. Remember to document everything.

     Eddie Vargas, CAM, is a divisional director for Leland Management. For more information, visit. www.lelandmgmt.com.

Tips on Hurricane Preparedness 
By Paige Gantt

     Hurricane Season is June through November 2022. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to advise you on your insurance coverages and offer some tips on preparing for any upcoming storms.

     Did you know that the number of expected 2022 Atlantic-named storms is 16, of which 6–8 will become hurricanes? 

Five ways to prepare your home

  1. Install hurricane straps
  2. Invest in storm shutters
  3. Reinforce or replace garage doors
  4. Remove trees and trim branches
  5. Anchor or remove outdoor furniture/objects

Five ways to prepare your business or condominium association

  1. Communicate your hurricane plan to employees and residents
  2. Pre-arrange cleanup with vendors
  3. Protect vital records in a waterproof container
  4. Have cash on hand
  5. Check the backup generator and safely store gas

     Reminder—After a loss, be sure to take pictures, keep receipts, hire licensed and insured vendors, and report a claim as soon as possible.

     If you haven’t checked your insurance policies, now is the time. Remember, flood insurance is not included in your homeowners or property insurance policy. It could take 30 days for a flood policy to take effect. 

     Paige Gantt is sales and marketing manager at Plastridge Insurance Agency. For more information, call us at (561) 276-5221.

How Can Associations Prepare or Budget for Weather-Related Disasters?
By Kenneth Vasquez

     Most professionals serving this industry recommend that associations develop a comprehensive plan in case of a disaster, including response efforts and a financial plan. Associations should contact their bankers when developing this plan and inquire about a contingency line of credit. This would ensure that, if a disaster occurred, a loan facility would already exist for the association to utilize. Attorneys for the association should draft a resolution that appoints certain members of the association with authority to act in the event of a disaster. 

     It is also important to have proper documentation of assets. Video and other types of documentation covering all assets should be updated regularly and stored in a secure location. Understanding insurance coverage, the exclusions under the existing policies, and the communication of this coverage to unit owners is essential. Of course, the standard protective devices, such as fire alarms, shutters, etc. are also recommended. 

     Kenneth Vasquez is vice president of Popular Association Banking, a division of Popular Bank. To reach him, call (786) 953-1142 or email kvasquez@popular.com.

     The information mentioned in this article is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guidance, and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek the advice of a professional advisor and/or legal counsel to address your specific needs regarding the issues related to your situation. Popular Bank does not make any representations or warranties as to the content contained herein and disclaims any and all liability resulting from any use of or reliance on such content. 

Is Structural Integrity Top of Mind in Your Community? 
By Matt Kuisle, PE, PRA, RS

     With discussions surrounding aging infrastructure on the rise, there’s an increasingly important type of disaster preparedness to consider—simply maintaining your building’s structural integrity. If necessary maintenance is deferred, your community runs the risk of further structural damage, deterioration, and even potential disaster. For example, failing to complete a necessary project such as a roof or sealant replacement can lead to leaks and additional structural damage to the building envelope. Not only can deferring maintenance cause increased damage, but it can also lead to exponentially increased project costs down the line due to the additional deterioration and damage you will have to remediate. 

     So, what is the first step in avoiding structural and financial disasters associated with deferred maintenance? Leadership! Strong boards make strong decisions, including the decision to maintain adequate reserve funds. By having enough in reserves to complete capital projects when they come due, associations can preserve their structural integrity and avoid the repercussions of deferred maintenance. 

     Matt Kuisle is regional executive director, PE, PRA, RS, with Reserve Advisors. For more information, call (800) 980-9881 or email matt@reserveadvisors.com.

Be Overprepared
By James Bourassa

     Preparing for hurricane season presents the property management business with unique challenges. Proper and extensive planning is paramount. 

     One of the key criteria when making preparations is strategic planning. Which vendors need to be contacted ahead of time so that a pre-determined price, scope, and timeframe can be agreed upon? Is the staff briefed on the plan for the property and all its infrastructure and amenities? What protocol has the management company’s corporate office provided? Photos and videos should be taken for insurance purposes of all items that may be damaged. Speaking of insurance, are all policies up to date? What precautions are we advising residents and staff to take in preparation for a storm? Is the board in sync with management in regards to a plan of action? When it comes to storm preparation, being overprepared is the objective. 

     James Bourassa is director of property management for Seacrest Services. For more information, visit www.SeacrestServices.com or call (561) 697-4990.

Hurricane Readiness Reminders for the Start of Storm Season
By Nicole R. Kurtz 

     Here are some of the most important hurricane preparedness tips and reminders for Florida community associations as we approach the commencement of this year’s storm season, which begins on June 1.

  1. Maintain an up-to-date paper roster of the current residents and store it at an accessible off-site location. Accounting for the whereabouts of all residents can be vital for emergency response teams who might have to provide medical assistance to any residents in need.
  2. Consider entering into service contracts with vendors who typically assist in the aftermath of a storm for services such as water-damage restoration, debris removal, security, etc.
  3. Keep important association records at a safe off-site location. Some important records may include a copy of the association’s governing documents, a certified copy of the association’s insurance policies, the association’s bank account information, service provider contracts, and contact information for all residents, staff, insurance agent/broker, attorney, and other key vendors.
  4. Take date-stamped photos and videos of the entire property for insurance purposes. This should include the inside and outside of the property and all common areas, as well as equipment, such as computers. These photos and videos should be stored off-site at a secure location.

     Hurricane season begins on June 1 and extends through November 30, with storms typically peaking in August and September. As with every hurricane season, regardless of forecast, being prepared in advance of a storm is fundamental for every community association in Florida and could truly be a life saver.

     Nicole R. Kurtz is a shareholder with the South Florida law firm of Siegfried Rivera. For more information, visit www.SiegfriedRivera.com, www.FloridaHOALawyerBlog.com, or call 1-800-737-1390. 

Prepare Now to Avoid Temporary Binding Restrictions
By Skyway

     What happens when a damaging storm is on its way and you don’t have the condominium insurance coverage you need? Unfortunately, temporary binding restrictions may cause you some stress.

What are temporary binding restrictions?

     A temporary binding restriction means that insurance policies can’t be purchased or changed for a specific window of time. These restrictions occur when there is an impending disaster in the area, like a hurricane.

Why do they exist? 

     Allowing people to bind a policy or upgrade their coverage hours before a disaster would force the insurance company to pay immediate, high claims. This isn’t fair to the company or its other customers. 

What can I do during a binding restriction? 

     You can’t change or purchase a policy, but you can receive quotes. Once the restriction is lifted, all you need to do is purchase your quoted policy. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry—make sure you have the coverage you need well before disaster is on the way!

     For more information on Skyway, visit Skyway.com.

Low Maintenance Trash Chutes
By Joanna Ribner

     When a storm threatens, there is an overwhelming list of precautions to be taken on any property. The good news is that the trash chute is low maintenance!

     There is very little that needs to be done, or indeed can be done, to protect your chute during a hurricane. It is an interior feature, so it is protected by the walls around it.

     If the chute doors are on an exterior catwalk, consider covering them with plywood as protection from flying debris.

     Secure loose items in the trash room. Make sure the fire damper door has a fusible link on it so in case something is blown over and ignites, the door will protect the building.

     After the storm passes, go up on the roof and see if the vent cap is secure or has blown away. Typically they do not survive hurricane force winds and will need to be replaced. 

     Joanna Ribner is owner of Southern Chute. For more information, call (954) 475-9191 or visit SouthernChute.com.

THREE Benefits of Property Inspections for Hurricane Preparedness 
By Jim Ilardi

     In preparation for hurricane season, a proactive property inspection can provide a number of time- and cost-saving benefits: 

  1. Obtaining a detailed third-party inspection report documents the condition of your property prior to hurricane season. Providing an accurate comparison to your insurance company not only removes questions about what damage was caused by the storm; it also removes obstacles to receiving full insurance coverage.
  2. Community members are educated about maintenance projects that reduce potential damage by strengthening existing structures. This type of proactive effort reassures residents during a high-stress time when concerns over property impact are heightened.
  3. Lastly, a detailed inspection report with supporting photos and video offers detailed direction for maintenance personnel to pinpoint the highest impact maintenance work.

     A proactive inspection is a small investment that eases concerns and can save you a significant investment in repairs. 

     For more information about our proactive property inspections, contact us at (407) 395-4144 or visit us at trueinspectionsflorida.com.

Disaster Preparedness: Be on Offense Rather Than Defense
By Joe Suskind

     When responding to a hurricane or other disaster, your offensive actions are your best defense. Get ahead of the game by taking the following steps:

     Check in on your association’s insurance policy and be sure you and all board members thoroughly understand it. If you have questions about coverage and risks, reach out to your insurance representative for a meeting.

     Document what the property looks like before a storm strikes and take photos of all common areas, pools, playgrounds, streets/sidewalks, security gates, etc. Keep these photos in a safe place. After a storm, document damage using photos and video to help show insurance companies what the property looked like before and after the storm.

     If a storm is approaching, secure all outdoor furniture so that it does not become a danger to anyone else.

     Maintain copies of all receipts in the case of immediate repairs. Try to avoid making repairs until after the insurance adjuster has done their due diligence, but if an emergency repair arises, be sure to keep all receipts. 

     Partner with a public adjuster who will work with you (the insured) rather than on the side of your insurance. They can help you review coverage before a disaster strikes and be first on the scene after the disaster to assess, document, and estimate the damage. Having a public adjuster on standby will help make your claims go much smoother and maximize your payout. 

     Joe Suskind is president of United Claims Specialists (UCS). For more information on successfully filing a property damage claim with your insurance company following a disaster,  call UCS at (855) 321-LOSS (5677) or visit ucspa.com.

Storm Surge Safety
By Tara Tallaksen

     With summer around the corner, it’s important to know what potential dangers lurk within our Sunshine State during this time of year and how to best prepare for them. While it’s true many natural dangers occur in Florida, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, wildfires, etc., one such disaster that often goes unlooked is storm surge. In fact, Florida is the most vulnerable state in the nation when it comes to storm surges. This is due to the powerful winds of hurricanes and tropical storms that cause the sea level to rise dramatically. 

     Following are the best ways to prepare for a storm surge:

  • Establish your nearest evacuation routes.
  • Understand your property’s elevation.
  • Raise your electrical items—like appliances—to a higher area.
  • Have emergency supplies ready.

     Additionally, homeowners should research and purchase flood insurance to help better protect their homes and other valuables from being destroyed during a storm surge. 

     Tara Tallaksen is a marketing and sales assistant. For more information on Vesta Property Services, email sales@vestapropertyservices.com, call (877) 988-3782 or visit VestaPropertyServices.com.