With spring on the horizon, it's important to keep in mind that severe weather season is also upon us. Depending on where your community is located, you may be at risk for tornadoes, hurricanes, and other threats. No matter where you are, part of your duties as a board member of a homeowners' association (HOA) includes being prepared for any weather emergency.
Your emergency action plan should prioritize the safety of people, detail how to protect property, and direct board member roles and responsibilities before, during, and after a storm. A valuable factor that must also be considered as part of your emergency planning and response is community insurance coverage. The right insurance policy ensures that your community can withstand a severe weather emergency responsibly. By identifying and taking action on the methods that best serve and protect homeowners and their property in times of crisis, you instill a sense of confidence and calm in the community. Read on to learn tips on what to do before and after a storm to get the most out of your insurance coverage.
What to do Before a Storm
Community insurance coverage can provide a feeling of security, protect your HOA's financial investments, and improve the safety of residents. Consider these HOA insurance tips before a storm hits.
Review your insurance coverage.
Make it a priority to regularly review your insurance coverage every year—especially before severe weather season approaches your area. Confirm you’ve made all insurance payments, ask about premium increases, identify any new risks, and guarantee your association is covered properly and in compliance with all HOA requirements.
Document all community assets.
You’ll need to provide documentation of damage to your insurance company when you file a claim. However, to allow the insurance company to better evaluate the level of damage and for the claim filing process to go more smoothly, document the condition of the community’s assets prior to the storm. Take time to photograph or video record community components that are at risk of being damaged by rough weather conditions, so you have some type of reference to the functionality of items before and after the impact of severe weather.
Evaluate replacement costs.
While replacement costs of major community assets should be determined while working on your annual budget and reserve account, now is the time when replacing critical units might be more likely. Note that there is a difference between replacement cost versus actual cost. In many cases, the replacement cost is going to be lower than the price that you actually paid for the item.
Familiarize yourself with your insurance representative.
Make sure you know how to contact your insurance representative. You don’t want to waste time searching for a phone number or e-mail address in the middle of a disaster. Also find a safe place—off the premises of the community—to store your important documents, like photos, videos, and your insurance policy.
What to do After a Storm
The right insurance partner should be helpful, communicative, and compassionate in the aftermath of a storm. As a board member, it’s your job to assist your community in the recovery process. Here are tips on how to get your insurance company involved and process your claim.
Immediately contact your insurance company.
As soon as the storm has passed and the threat to your safety has subsided, contact your insurance company to file a claim. Get the claims process started before your insurance provider becomes inundated with other requests. If you have evacuated, make sure that your community’s insurance representative knows where and how to reach you.
Document all storm damage to community assets.
Once it is safe for you to explore and evaluate the premises, begin documenting all damage. Make sure to take detailed, high-resolution photographs or video that showcase the depth of the destruction, as this will be critical to recouping as much of the repair and recovery costs as possible. Don’t begin the process of hiring contractors to make repairs until after you’ve recorded everything that has been compromised.
Promptly file all claims.
Work with your insurance representative and adjuster to promptly file all insurance claims. Properly and promptly filing your claims will ensure that you receive compensation sooner. Be sure that your adjuster provides you with a proof of loss statement, which is an official form from the insurer detailing the scope of damage to the property. If there is any additional damage in the weeks following the storm, continue to work with your adjuster to modify your claims.
Choose your repair contractors carefully.
Hiring reputable contractors is critical. While your community manager may have a network of trusted vendors, your insurance claims adjuster may also be able to provide you with recommendations. As you consider bids for repair jobs, do your due diligence before signing a service contract.
Report and record all recovery transactions.
Document the recovery process and maintain records of all relevant correspondence. This allows the board to easily reference all information and data relating to the weather event and also provides future board members with valuable insight into how emergencies have been handled in the past.
How to Ensure Comprehensive Community Insurance Coverage
It's part of your fiduciary responsibility to ensure that your community has comprehensive insurance coverage. Our ebook, "The Blueprint for Board Member Success: 4 Steps to Ensure Comprehensive Community Insurance Coverage," guides you through the process and provides tips to protect and preserve your community in the event of an emergency. Download the ebook below!