Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Ian may take some time. Axios estimates that the insured losses from Hurricane Ian will total around $67 billion, making it the costliest storm in Florida’s history. Businesses that are dealing with damaged property and business interruptions are likely wondering how to recover from Hurricane Ian as quickly as possible. The good news is there are steps you can take to return to normal.
Work with Your Insurer
It is important to report losses to your insurer promptly. Hopefully, you have already contacted your insurer to start your claim. If you have any updates, such as additional damage you have discovered, inform your insurer as soon as possible.
Documentation is also key. Although you may be tempted to clean out your property and throw away damaged items, you need to make sure you document everything first. Take photographs and record videos, compiling a list of all the damage. Avoid throwing out damaged items until a claims professional has had a chance to inspect everything.
This is also a good time to review your policy. It is the claims adjuster’s job to assess damage and determine what coverage is available but knowing what your policy does and does not cover can help you avoid surprises.
Watch Out for Fraud
Since hurricanes bring out scammers, business owners need be vigilant.
A common scam involves contractors who go door to door offering repairs and cleanup services, often at a discounted price. This can be an enticing offer for business owners who need help getting back to normal, but it is often a trap. The contractors may not be licensed or capable of providing quality work. They might not even try – some scammers ask for upfront payments and then disappear.
- Do your due diligence before choosing a contractor. Compare quotes from several contractors. Use Florida DBPR to verify a contractor’s license and look for reviews and recommendations. Your insurer may be able to recommend contractors in your area.
- Don’t pay the full amount upfront and don’t pay in cash. Make sure you retain evidence of all payments.
- Read the fine print before signing anything. Ask for everything in writing, but don’t sign a contract until you have read it and checked that everything is correct. The NAIC also warns that you should think carefully before signing an Assignment of Benefits, which allows the contractor to work directly with your insurer. This can make the process easier, but you need to know the contractor is trustworthy.
Access Legitimate Resources
Your business may be struggling in the wake of Hurricane Ian – know that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you in the recovery process.
- Reach out to your insurance agency and insurance company. They may have additional resources and information that can help you.
- See if you qualify for tax relief. The IRS has extended some tax-filing and tax-payment deadlines for people impacted by Hurricane Ian.
- Determine whether you qualify for a Disaster Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Businesses in multiple counties are eligible for relief. You can apply for Business Physical Disaster Loans to help repair or replace property damaged by the storm, including real estate, inventory, supplies, machinery, and equipment. Non-profit organizations and businesses of all sizes can apply for these loans. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can also apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help cover ordinary and necessary financial obligations during the disaster recovery period.
- See if you qualify for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan This is a short-term, zero-interest working capital loan of up to $50,000.
- Check with FEMA for additional resources. FEMA has resources for businesses as well as assistance for families and individuals, which your workers may need.
As businesses figure out how to recover from Hurricane Ian, it’s critical to rely on legitimate sources of assistance while keeping an eye out for scams. Hurricane Ian was a massive storm, but Florida has recovered from hurricanes before – and we will recover from this one.
Wilson, Washburn & Forster is a boutique independent insurance agency that has been in business since 1961. We have expertise and connections in commercial property insurance. Our experience, claims handling, service, and community commitment is unrivaled.
Contact us today at 786-454-8384 for a complimentary analysis of your current insurance program by an insurance specialist in this field.