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‘Above average’ hurricane activity prompts reminder for storm preparedness

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Business Practices | Insurance
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This year’s hurricane forecast is worse than initially anticipated, with “more tropical cyclone activity” expected along the Atlantic coast than initially anticipated, according to a Colorado State University’s (CSU) projection.

The forecast is renewing reminders for repair shops and other small businesses to take preemptive measures to prepare for the ongoing hurricane season.

“We recommend that collision repair shops in hurricane-prone states financially prepare for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season by having adequate property insurance coverage, as well as a business continuity plan that will help them reopen as quickly as possible after a hurricane strikes their area,” said Mark Friedlander, Insurance Information Institute spokesman.

He added: “Even if your shop is not in a FEMA-designated flood plain, we strongly recommend having flood insurance as part of your financial protection package. It’s important to note hurricanes can cause catastrophic flooding in inland communities far away from coastal counties, as we saw with Hurricane Ian last year in Florida.”

Business flood insurance is available through the federally-backed National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurers, Friedlander said. He encourages shops without flood coverage to ask their insurance agents to provide them with a few quotes.

Since it usually takes 30 days for a flood policy to take effect, Friedlander said that businesses should not wait until storm warnings hit their area to start shopping for coverage.

Under a standard business owners policy, shop owners can expect to have coverage for windstorm damage for hurricanes and other natural disasters like tornadoes or hail storms. But with property replacement costs rising more than 30% throughout the past five years, Friedlander said shops should ensure they carry an adequate level of coverage.

“Shop owners should also carry business interruption (BI) coverage as part of their business owners policy,” he said. “BI helps businesses recoup lost income when their property suffers physical damage and is shuttered due to a natural disaster or fire.”

CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science is forecasting 18 named storms, including four that have already formed, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes this year. Its previous forecast included 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes this season.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale defines major hurricanes as ones that reach Category 3, 4, 5 wind speeds. According to it:

    • Category 1 hurricanes have wind speeds of 74-95 mph;
    • Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds of 96 to 110 mph;
    • Category 3 hurricanes have wind speeds of 111 to 129 mph;
    • Category 4 hurricanes have wind speeds of 130 to 156 miles per hour; and
    • Category 5 hurricanes have windspeeds of 157 miles per hour or higher.

Wind speeds below 74 mph are considered a tropical storm.

“We have increased our forecast and now call for an above-average Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2023, although uncertainty with this outlook is larger than normal,” said Phil Klotzbach, an Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) non-resident scholar and CSU atmospheric science researcher. “While we continue to anticipate a robust El Niño for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, most of the tropical and subtropical Atlantic now has record warm sea surface temperatures.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a typical year 14 storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes develop.

CSU’s research showed the probability of a major hurricane hitting continental U.S. coastlines to be 50% this year, higher than the historical 43% average.

“Those residing in hurricane-prone states should take steps now to reduce their risks from wind and water-caused property damage,” said Sean Kevelighan, chief executive of Triple-I. “If they haven’t done so already, homeowners, condo owners, renters, and business owners should review their policies with an insurance professional to make sure they have the right types and amounts of coverage. That also means exploring flood insurance since flood-caused damage is not covered under standard home, condo, renters, or business insurance policies.”

One resource for repair shops affected by floods is the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF), a nonprofit that has worked for several years to aid people with ties to the collision industry after disasters.

Disaster relief assistance can be requested here or by calling toll-free 855-4-CIFAID or direct 804-427-6982 for information about available resources. Assistance is considered for individuals and is not provided to businesses and organizations. One-time donations are accepted or donors can set up monthly, quarterly, or annual donations on CIF’s website. To donate via text, text CIF to 734-366-4990.

Hurricane season began June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.


Featured image credit: SB Stock/iStock

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