Note: This is a reprint of an article that ran in the Sept. 1 issue of IIABNY Insider.
Don’t be fooled by the blue skies overhead and calm winds. While Hurricane Earl is forecast to pass within 140 miles to the east of Montauk as IIABNY Insider goes to press, not even the experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration know for sure how close it will come to Long Island and the New York City metropolitan area as it travels up the East Coast this week. The storm, now a category 3 storm with wind speeds up to 125 miles per hour, poses such a serious threat that IIABNY member agencies and brokerages in potentially affected areas should begin making preparations.
Besides monitoring the storm’s progress through media reports and NOAA’s Hurricane Center, IIABNY is advising its members to:
- ensure the safety of all employees as a first priority
- create disaster preparation and recovery plans if not already done
- compile emergency supplies of food and water in the event that employees cannot leave the office due to travel restrictions
- back up computer data to offsite servers
- set up a system for communicating with employees and their families if the office has to close during an emergency
- make plans to protect windows
- arrange for any necessary backup systems, such as power generators, water
- forward to clients additional information on how to prepare for the storm, such as the recommendations on the website of the New York State Emergency Management Office
- compile a local emergency contacts list
- complete insurance company personnel disaster response contact information form
"Beyond taking care of their employees and businesses, insurance agencies can once again show their value by reaching out to their clients at times like these," said IIABNY President and CEO Richard A. Poppa. "It is important to tell clients by e-mail or another rapid communications medium what they should do to prepare for the storm and how they should file claims after it’s over."
Agents, brokers and their employees can also assemble hurricane survival kits. Tips for building a survival kit that agency staff can pass along to insureds can be found online at eHow.com. If officials find it necessary to order a mandatory evacuation, you and your employees can begin now to determine evacuation routes and secure your office by:
- making sure all loose items are tied down;
- shutting off electricity and gas;
- boarding up windows; and
- putting all furniture, important files, computer and electronic equipment as high as possible, either up on blocks or in a second story if your property is subject to flooding.
IIABNY members who are clients of Agility Recovery Solutions, the association’s endorsed recovery and business continuity provider, also have access to a range of services to help them weather storms like Hurricane Earl and other catastrophes that might interrupt their business. In preparation of the storm, those members should ensure Agility's contact information is readily available to all employees.