As spring is hitting the United States, storm season is upon us…still. In reality, the storm season of 2023 has never ended. Winter storms, tornados, wildfires, and new record lows and highs happening across the county have not allowed for the typical reprieve we enjoyed in the past. In recent years, current trends worldwide have been striking – from record levels of cold in Antarctica to new record highs for temperature across continents. This brings year-round potential damages. It would seem there is no such thing as a storm season anymore. As the world copes with turbulent weather patterns, natural disasters are on the rise. The frequency and cost of billion-dollar disasters have increased exponentially over the past few decades; in fact, the number of billion-dollar events has risen from three per year in the 1980s to over 20 per year in 2020-2022. This is a worrying trend, with extreme weather events having far-reaching and detrimental impacts on communities across the United States; we are seeing the stress and damage these weather events cause in the personal and commercial insurance sphere, including the stress of premium increases.
Whether you’re an insurance agent, insurer, or insured individual, protecting your home and/or business from potentially costly damages caused by weather-related events can help keep everyone safe this upcoming season and minimize the stress and frustration that comes along with the claim.
Insurance Preparation Technology
Preparation before a storm is essential for protecting valuable property and possessions, but we must be prepared all year. Social media, apps, and other technologies have become part of the preparation solution. Below are some technologies you should include in your Emergency Preparedness plan outside of the standard Emergency Kit for your home, including first aid, water, sustenance, medications, and more. Look to Weather.gov’s article on supplies to Include in your Basic Kit here: https://www.weather.gov/owlie/emergencysupplieskit
- Innovative Communication Technologies: Have a Communication Plan that clearly details how you and your loved ones can communicate during and after an event. Know how to check on extended family, friends, and neighbors and ensure they understand how you plan to communicate with them. Make sure everyone knows places of shelter they can get to if separated. Remember, landline and cellular phone systems are often overwhelmed or must be. Text and push notifications to transmit more easily than phone calls due to the lower bandwidth required. Utilizing technologies such as Facebook Safety Check, Google Crisis Response, FEMA app, Life360 app, a GPS app will help you stay connected.
- Digital Inventory App: Inventory your home, property, or business with a mobile inventory tool. Everyone should take this time to be prepared and create an inventory of everything in their home and business. This inventory can serve as a reference for your insurance company if needed after a natural disaster. It will provide documentation of all items in the home, including electronics, furniture, jewelry, clothing, etc., so that you are prepared. Remember if you’re short on time, you don’t need to take a picture of every individual item, take a picture of what’s in your cabinet, drawer, closet, etc. You can reference it later and create a more detailed report if needed. Insurance companies require proof of ownership documentation for a claim. Payout on replacement coverage of “x” amount requires proof of “x” amount in loss. Talk to your insurance agent and ask them if they have any accessible mobile applications or technology tools that can assist you with inventorying your possessions and updating the list as needed. e.g.., Insurance Agent App.
- Mobile Incident/Accident Report App: Dealing with the struggles of claims after a significant event is frustrating and stressful. Filing a claim quickly and easily is vital to get the help, financial assistance, and services you need. Submitting claims with all information, images, and contact information the first time will improve efficiencies and speed in handling the claim. Having access to an incident/accident reporting feature on your mobile device creates an efficient way to share your loss with your insurance agent. e.g.., Insurance Agent App
- Hand Crank & Solar Technologies: Some technologies will always stand the test of time. Hand Crank and Solar Technologies are ways to ensure you have some form of information and light to assist you in an emergency. With the hand crank and solar option, you can run technologies with these features practically indefinitely. Newer models can even charge your cell phones! e.g. Midland ER310
Always check in with your insurance agent to find out what technology tools they have for their clients to assist you in your Emergency Preparedness Plan.