By Stephanie Saunders / Published August 2020
Hurricane season is upon us again, and, as always, it’s extremely important to be prepared. We’re all too familiar with the damage hurricanes can inflict, and due to their unpredictable nature, we never know where they’re going to land. A severe enough storm can do more than just cause damage to properties; the financial impacts of hurricanes can be devastating, as well. It is essential to be prepared both in the physical sense and financial sense for this year’s storm season.
We all know the physical dangers of the hurricanes, but let’s take a look at the financial costs. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2019’s natural disasters resulted in a total cost of $45 billion. The cost of natural disasters tends to catch up to those who are financially vulnerable—from not having enough money to having proper hurricane shutters to not being able to afford to fill the car up with gas. Unfortunately, such a disaster could possibly wipe out one’s finances. The financial impact of a hurricane can also hurt the most prepared property owners. As a community association you have obligations to maintain your reserves for incidents like a hurricane, but what happens if the costs are so high that reserves are completely wiped out? That is a devastating thought.
As the pandemic dwindles down from its peak, we want to stress the importance of having your “ducks in a row” when it comes to your insurance coverage. Make sure you and your communities are prepared for the possible negative outcomes of any worst-case scenarios that could be caused by a natural disaster.
Having the proper homeowners’ insurance in place is crucial should your home or community be in the path of a severe storm. As experienced adjusters, we have witnessed many communities assuming that their insurance company has ensured proper coverage is in place only to realize that they had exclusions and/or large deductibles after a storm has already passed. This is a less than ideal situation to be in. A proper policy should provide coverage for wind, water, mold, and emergency services. Be sure to check these important sections of your policy and their limits. If you experience a large amount of damage and have low limits, you will have to dip into the reserves to make proper repairs. Review your deductibles—hurricane deductibles are often much higher than the standard deductible, and you do not want to have to dish out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a roof replacement before you are even able to get help from your insurance carrier. You can easily adjust your limits by calling your carrier. Make sure you have law and ordinance coverage in place.
L & O coverage is insurance coverage for loss caused by the enforcement of ordinances or laws regulating construction and repair of damaged buildings. Insurers are required to offer policyholders the option of purchasing law and ordinance coverage for either 25 percent or 50 percent of the dwelling limit. The worst-case scenario is finding out you weren’t covered for something when you thought you were.
One of our crucial functions is helping community associations protect the money they have in reserves by using their insurance to file property damage claims. A large number of HOA board members and community association managers we work with don’t know they have any options outside of what the insurance provider tells them. This deficit of knowledge needs to be set right, and we are here to spread the word that you have more control of the outcome of your property damage issues than you realize. Help us help you by being prepared ahead of time, and review your coverage before disaster strikes. We have helped associations save millions of dollars. That’s our job, and we’re more than happy to help you through this process.
Director of Marketing & Business Development, United Claims Specialists
Stephanie Saunders serves as the director of marketing and business development for United Claims Specialists, a dynamic public adjusting firm specializing in residential and commercial properties. Stephanie is responsible for representing community associations when they have experienced property damage. She is a licensed CAM continuing education (CE) provider and actively assists in providing LCAMs and board members with education related to disaster preparedness, financial obligations, and property damage claim management. For more information, visit www.UCSPA.com.