Preparing Insurance Clients for Stormy Weather
No matter what state you provide insurance services in, storm season is a force to be reckoned with. In the South, the months between June and November mark Hurricane Season. Pretty much all of the states are prone to thunderstorms during the spring and summer, ice storms in the northern states during the winter month, and possibly another brewing after the storm when it's time for the client to file a claim.
A lot of people dread storm season because they fear the damage and devastation it can bring, but it’s a good time of year for insurance agents to respectfully drum up business by offering added benefits to insurance clients. Offering yourself as the expert and staying out on the open before and especially after these events take place, secures you and your agency as the starting point for current and prospective clients when mother nature strikes. Insurance clients and prospects may not read your newsletter or take your advice but you'll have provided them a "business card" of sorts when they need it most should the unthinkable happen.
Here are some ideas for helping your clients and prospects get ready for storm season.
- Preparation is Key. Collect several articles that offer tips on how to prepare for the upcoming storm season. Some example tips to include:
- Walk Around. Check out your yard to make sure landscaping and trees won’t become flying projectiles if the storm kicks up high winds. Remove any diseased or damaged limbs from trees (especially for states prone to wild fires and dry conditions)
- Panic Room. Consider building a safe room in your home that can withstand high winds and flying debris. There are many places on the web that describe how to build a DIY storm shelter.
- Free Parking. Determine where you will park your car if a storm threatens. If you live in an area prone to flooding, it would be a good idea to find a place on higher ground. If you must leave your car outdoors, park it as close to a building as possible or you may find it's been towed to the other end of town by high winds.
- House Covering. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, ensure you have storm shutters or plywood to cover each opening in your home. A few screws and some cheap wood could save a you a major headache in the short-term.
- Clean the Yard. Bring all lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans and anything else that can become a flying projectile. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
- Cold Wave. Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting in case you lose power for an extended amount of time. This will allow your food to stay cool as long as possible.
- Document Everything. Move from room to room with a video camera or still camera, at the very least, and take pictures of everything inside. As you do this, offer commentary, listing the major items and significant information about each of your possessions. This will pay off if there is a loss so the insurance company has proof of pre-storm belongings and condition of the property. Make sure you record the contents of closets, drawers and cabinets. The value of little things can add up quickly.
- Storm Tracking. Keep track of model numbers and stores where you purchased each item and store this information in a safe place offsite, like a bank box or a computer backed up on the Cloud. It is also a good idea to keep all of the receipts for purchases in a safe place. This may not be reasonable for most people but big ticket items should be kept at the very least.
- Update your Inventory. After making a significant purchase, be sure to add the information to your home inventory while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Prepare and Emergency Kit. In a hurricane kit, for example, you should have a three-day supply of water and ready-to-eat non perishable food for every family member and pet. You should also have a manual can opener, essential medications, a first aid kit, battery-powered flashlights, a battery-powered radio and plenty of extra batteries. Additionally a list of relatives or friends phone numbers, cash money, and games to keep kids occupied are good items to have on hand also.
Living in Colorado, I was faced with a wild fire a few years back and though it was a stressful situation for all, compounding that with tired and confused kids could have only made it that much more stressful. When I was running through the house grabbing hard drives, photos, and important items, one of the things I also grabbed was the kids game console system. I figured if we lose our home to a wild fire, I can at least keep them calm and content during the ordeal. Luckily the winds changed sparing our house but at least now I've got a plan in case mother nature strikes.
- Verify/Update Insurance Policies. It is critical that people know what is and is not included in their homeowner storm coverage. For example, if a storm ends up causing a flood and water backs up into a home, damage may not be covered unless a homeowner has a separate flood insurance policy. This is a good time to educate your insurance clients on what is or is not covered on their current insurance and how their local community is affected by certain weather patterns. You don't need to become a meteorologist but you can inform your clients to show that you are looking out for their best interest.