The Calm Before The Storm

Our local businesses are the backbone of our community and natural disasters can quickly ruin them if proper business preparation is put on the back burner. Our weather is getting more extreme every year and it could take one powerful storm to not only create massive physical damage to local business, but cause extended periods of lost income which could cripple businesses. Let’s take a look at some proactive steps our local business can take to make them more resilient in the face of a disaster.

  • Check your insurance policies! Standing in three feet of flood water is NOT the time to realize you do not have flood insurance. A quick call to our office and we can tell you what you are and are not covered for and discuss the benefits of increased limits or additional coverages.
  • Create a business continuity plan. This goes for small disasters (one that may just affect your business) and large, community-wide disasters. Your small disaster plans may include having a secondary location that you can run your business from (your home, a friend’s office, etc.) while your office/store/shop is repaired. Make sure your client data is backed up offsite so you can continue to service your clients. If your business is big enough, you may want to appoint one person as the “go to” disaster coordinator.
  • Create a protection plan. This is as important for businesses as it is for the general population. If a storm is looming do you know where you can store your vital business equipment? Are there items that should be moved to higher ground, disconnected from power, covered or physically secured so they don’t float or blow away? Is your generator fueled up and properly serviced for quick and easy connection (and stored in a place that won’t flood)? Do you have ample supplies to protect your building (plywood, screws, tarps, etc)?
  • Establish a communication plan. You will want one for your employees as well as for your clients. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for all employees and clients. Communicate early and honestly. Let everyone know if you have an issue that impacts their job or your ability to provide your service. Delays of schedule due to large scale disasters are obviously easier for your clients to understand as they are likely standing in a similar flood. But if the disaster is a smaller scale, it is imperative that you have your job schedule and client contact info at your fingertips to update them and come up with a plan.

This all may seem very time consuming and overwhelming, BUT it’s important to take a little time now to establish a clear plan for both yourself and your employees. The time and effort you take now could literally save your business when a disaster strikes.

♫ People Get Ready ♫

Our spring theme song!

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is predicting historic and wide spread flooding this spring, due in part to above average precipitation through May. While our immediate region is not in the riskiest area, it’s still important that we are prepared, especially since flooding season rolls right into hurricane season! Let’s look at steps you should take to prepare for yourself and your family.

  1. First and foremost, make sure you have the right insurance coverage with appropriate limits for your needs. It’s important to remember that standard insurance policies specifically exclude flood damage. Talk to your agent about your flood risks and the benefits of a flood policy.
    1. Make sure you have your insurance policy information and claims contact numbers. Put this information in your cell phone, so you will always have it with you. Also, have the 24-hour contact information for a disaster recovery company in case you sustain damage, taking swift action to mitigate further damage is important.
  2. Back up and protect your important documents/information critical to your personal life. It is recommended that you back-up your personal data/documents to a cloud and/or a portable drive that is stored safely away from potential flooding.
  3. Establish your emergency plan for your entire family (including your pets) and review the plan with everyone! Ready.Gov has excellent planning tools for everyone.
    1. Click here for a fillable parents’ family communication plan
    2. Click here for a fillable family communication plan for your children (you can put this in their school backpack)
  4. If you are ordered to evacuate and time allows you should:
    1. Actually leave! Please be aware that when an evacuation order is given it is done so to protect the residents as well as emergency responders. If you do not leave, emergency responders will NOT come to help you until an all-clear for the area is given.
    2. Message your out of state contact to provide details of where you are evacuating.
    3. Lock all doors and windows before leaving your home.
    4. Take your emergency “bug out” bag/boxes.
    5. Unplug as many electrical items as possible (leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in UNLESS they are in an area that may flood).
    6. Consider turning off the main switches for power, gas and/or water before leaving.
    7. Leave a note on your front door that your home has been evacuated and prepared (i.e. if you turned off water/power/gas) with your contact number. This will help emergency responders work more efficiently.

Preparing now and reviewing your plans with your family/household members will save you precious time if an emergency occurs.

Flood Insurance – Are You Prepared?

I created this quick video to remind people that flood damage is NOT covered by your standard home or renters policy. With spring arriving (finally) we are looking toward our rainy season. With rain comes the very real possibility of flooding for anyone and everyone. What, that’s crazy you say? It’s true, everyone lives in a flood zone and floods can and will happen anywhere given the right circumstances.

Eight years ago this week we saw massive flooding on the heels of weeks of spring rains compounded with a few days of deluge. The local flooding was massive, a “One hundred years flood” it was dubbed. Thousands of homes sustained damage; residents had to be rescued from their homes in boats; local, state and federal agencies set up camp to assist in the recovery. And insurance agents all over the area had to inform clients without flood insurance that their damages and losses were not covered. It’s heartbreaking and absolutely not the news we ever want to deliver.

Many will say that flood insurance is too expensive. But that’s not true. Each community is divided into flood zones which are based on historical data and proximity to bodies of water, as well community flood mitigation action. A home that sits atop a hill with no immediate sources of water will see a significantly different premium than a house that sits nestled in a low spot near a river. The greater the risk will bring a higher premium, but you need to weigh that against the loss factor. Could you afford to replace and rebuild your basement after it receives six inches of flood water? Does your “rainy day” fund have a new washer and dryer, hot water heater and furnace budgeted?

But do you know what doesn’t cost you a thing? A flood insurance quote. We would be happy to provide you a quote and discuss any questions you may have. You can call our office at 401-596-2096 or email us at info@mansfieldins.com.

Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall

Usually at this time of year we are more concerned with snowy and icy conditions on our roads and roofs; ice or snow ladened branches that may take out our roof or garage; or landing on our keister as we navigate the sidewalks. But as we’ve seen in the news, the excessively frigid temperatures have led to ice jams in local waterways that are causing some unexpected winter flooding. So should that “little” rain result in flooding, be sure you are protected with flood insurance.

We know first hand how devastating and insidious flooding is on our homes and businesses. Water is an unstoppable force that will make its way over, under, through and/or around buildings, belongings, walls, etc. While we cannot stop the rain from falling, or the rivers from freezing, we can take measures to prevent flooding issues around our homes and businesses.

The following are some preventative measures you can take to alleviate potential flooding issues:

  1. CLEAR YOUR GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS! The purpose of your gutters and downspouts is to direct water away from your home. If they are clogged with debris, the will overflow creating pools of water that seep into your foundation and then your basement. If your downspouts do not direct water away from your home or far enough away, extend them…it’s a very simple project that can be done in an afternoon.
  2. Inspect your foundation/basement walls for cracks. Water does not need an easier way into your home, so if you have cracks in your foundation, have them repaired as soon as possible. You can also treat your foundation with waterproofing for an added line of defense, but make sure you treat the entire foundation as this is the only way the waterproofing will be effective.
  3. Check the grade of your property. The grade should be about six inches beginning about four feet from your home. If this is not the case, you can build up around the house with clean fill (not topsoil as this will retain water) that will increase the grade and allow for drainage.
  4. Move those gardens! If your garden sits too close to your home you are inviting water to hang around and potentially seep into your foundation/basement. Gardens are designed to absorb and retain water, not to drain off. If your current garden it close to your home, you have plenty of time to consider a new location!
  5. Elevate your stuff. If your basement is anything like mine, it’s home to a lot of “stuff”. One way to protect this stuff is to elevate it on shelves or blocks in case you do have water come in. We bought these great ventilated shelving units that provide elevation AND the shelves are open so when our washer went berserk and we had a little flood, the shelves didn’t have to be removed for the industrial dryers to do their job!

These are just a few tips to keep your home dry. But we cannot escape the reality that water may damage your home and in that case you will want a flood policy, because flood damage is NOT covered by your homeowners policy. So take a look around your home/property to see what you can change or enhance to best protect your investment and then give us a call to check on a flood policy. This way should a worst case flood scenario play out, you will be covered.

What The Flood? What You Need To Know About The NFIP

I started this blog as an historical walk down the National Flood Insurance Plan memory lane; with the intention of breaking down the insurance gibberish to help the average homeowner understand how we got to where we are with the NFIP. BUT the copious amounts of research I’ve been doing has led me in a slightly different direction. I now realize that there has been an increase in the percentage of property owners that DO NOT have flood insurance, despite an increase in flood disasters. So let’s take a down and dirty look at flood insurance and why you need it.

  1. EVERYONE lives in a flood zone. True, not all flood zones are created equally, but flooding can and does occur everywhere. Let us not forget the massive flooding in traditional “non-flood” prone areas in March 2010. Winter frozen ground and two weeks of steady rain meant that homes that had never had a drop of moisture in the basement suddenly had three feet of standing water.
  2. Did you know that 20% of all flood insurance claims come from “low risk” areas? And in the past five years ALL 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.
  3. Your homeowners policy DOES NOT COVER FLOOD DAMAGE! Period. End of story. The only coverage for flood damage to your property comes from a flood policy. There is a 30 day waiting period to enact the policy through the National Flood Insurance Program, so NOW is the time to get a quote. There are few private market companies that offer flood insurance and may be able to issue a policy sooner if you are concerned and want to be covered sooner rather than later.
  4. It may not be as expensive as you think. If you live in a preferred risk zone, you could see a flood policy premium that only costs a few dollars a day. Even if you live in a high risk zone, the NFIP is underwritten by the government and policy premiums max out at a relatively low level.
  5. Participants in the NFIP receive financial assistance faster than traditional insurance claims. Because the NFIP is backed by the government, the funds are at the ready to start paying as soon as possible.
  6. Mother Nature does not tell time, therefore if you are hoping that a “100 year storm” only shows up every 100 years, you will be sorry. The week of Hurricane Harvey we saw THREE active hurricanes (Katia, Harvey & Irma).

FEMACostOfFloodInsVFloodDamageCosts
*Each policy is unique and pricing may differ, but an average loss of $39,000 equals ~55 years of a $700/annual premium.

For most people, their home is the largest investment and providing sufficient insurance to protect this investment is crucial. If you have any questions about your property’s need for flood insurance, call our office. We are well versed in the NFIP and are more than happy to help you weigh the pros of being insured against floods.