This article addresses steps that self-storage business owners may take to prepare for storm season. The second article in this two-part series will discuss actions to take in the aftermath of a storm and filing a claim.
The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1st through November 30th. With over 7,000 self-storage facilities located in coastal areas, it is critical that operators take the necessary steps to prepare for extreme weather. Even if a facility is not located in a hurricane-prone area, businesses may be affected by tornadoes, windstorms, fire, earthquake or other environmental emergences at any time during the year.
Creating and maintaining an emergency preparedness and response plan as part of a facility’s overall written risk management plan is a critical task for self-storage operators. Here are some basic guidelines to help prepare for and respond to severe weather events.
We recommend completing a pre-storm analysis now in preparation for severe storms, tornadoes and hurricanes depending on your geographic location. Some of the recommendations will apply to all business owners, while some are applicable to select locations. Being prepared is the key. Hopefully the following suggestions will help everyone to be ready.
• Locate any and all insurance policies you own and ensure that they are kept in a place where storm activity will not likely affect them (safety deposit box, relative’s home, etc.).
• Make note of the names, addresses, phone numbers and policy numbers for each of your policies and keep your list on your person so that you will be prepared to make contact with your carriers once the storm activity has abated.
• Keep contact numbers for the local authorities such as the police/sheriff, medical facilities, utilities, and emergency contacts.
• Have a place of safety and an emergency plan in place for your family.
• Have a safety plan in place with emergency supplies in case an evacuation warning goes into effect.
• Keep cell phones and flashlights fully charged at all times.
You should also review with your insurance agent the coverages available on all of your policies, particularly property-related policies, to ensure that storm-related exposures are included in your coverages and that your policy reflects appropriate property values. Insurance companies are empowered to place moratoriums on new business or addendums to existing business during the period when a storm appears imminent. At those times, insurance carriers may issue instructions to agents to cease binding coverage and will not contemplate any exceptions. Again, this common practice underscores the necessity of securing accurate insurance coverages well in advance of storm season.
NOTE: This brief article is not intended to provide specific legal analysis or advice, and should not be construed to apply to every potential situation involving insurance coverages and losses. For specific information and questions concerning this article and the information contained therein, please consult your insurance agent and/or your attorney.