(This article was originally published for our client Boards of Directors as part of our Q2 / Spring Digital Newsletter)
With spring having sprung, 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 wind storms, flooding, tornadoes, and other threats. No matter where you are, part of your duties as a board member of a condominium community 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 condominium’s financial investments, and improve the safety of residents. Consider these 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. Ask about premium increases, identify any new risks, and guarantee your community is covered properly and in compliance with all Ontario Condo Act requirements.
DOCUMENT ALL COMMUNITY ASSETS.
We’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, the condition of the community’s assets prior to the storm should be documented. Photograph or video record community components that are at risk of being damaged by rough weather conditions, so there is reference to the functionality of items before and after the impact of severe weather.
EVALUATE REPLACEMENT COSTS.
While replacement costs of major community assets may be determined while working on your annual budget and reserve fund study, there may be differences 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.
SAFEGUARD IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
Make sure you know who to contact if an insurance event occurs. 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 insurance policies. Speak to your condominium manager for assistance beforehand to ensure your community is prepared.
What to do After a Storm
The right insurance partner should be helpful, communicative, and compassionate in the aftermath of a storm. We are here to assist your community in the recovery process and work with your insurance partner and related contractors. Here are tips on getting your insurance company involved and processing your claim.
IMMEDIATELY CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
As soon as the storm has passed and the threat to personal safety has subsided, your insurance company will be contacted to file a claim. Getting the claims process started before your insurance provider becomes inundated with other requests may be an important step in wide-spread events.
DOCUMENT ALL STORM DAMAGE TO COMMUNITY ASSETS.
Once it is safe, the premises will be evaluated to begin documenting all damage. Detailed, high-resolution photographs or video that showcase the depth of the destruction will be critical to recouping as much of the repair and recovery costs as possible. Some emergency restoration services may be necessary for safety and security, however it is recommended to not begin the process of hiring contractors to make repairs until after you’ve recorded everything that has been compromised.
PROMPTLY FILE ALL CLAIMS.
We will 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. Your adjuster will provide 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, we will continue to work with your adjuster to modify your claims.
CHOOSE REPAIR CONTRACTORS CAREFULLY.
Hiring reputable contractors is critical. Both your condominium manager and insurance claims adjustor will have a network of trusted vendors 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.
We will 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.