Prepare Your Buildings for Summer Storms

July 12, 2005
Alex N. Sill Co. and Boyken provide tips for disaster preparedness

How prepared are you for summer storms and hurricanes? Atlanta-based Boyken Intl. and the Cleveland-based Alex N. Sill Co. provide this checklist to help you prepare for - and recover from - Mother Nature’s wrath.

Before the Season

  • Create a disaster plan and test it. There are many publications on this subject and some consulting firms have disaster-recovery planning as a service offering.
  • Form a disaster team with each member having specific duties in the event of a loss.
  • Take photographs of the property in its existing condition. Video images will better document the existing areas. Open cabinets and storage rooms when videoing the property to reflect what is stored in those areas.
  • Establish a pre-storm checklist to help better protect the property. Checklist should include items such as sealing all openings (windows, doors, carports, or drive-through areas, etc.), equipment to be shutdown or relocated to a higher ground or location, preparation and placement of sandbags, securing dewatering equipment and temporary generators, etc.
  • Obtain copies of existing building plans and specifications and store off-site in a secure location.
  • Contact a public insurance adjuster to represent the property in case of a loss, secure a preferential rate with that adjuster. As with any professional, not all public adjusters are the same. It is imperative that your adjuster is a member of a state or national organization (NAPIA), is properly licensed (about 38 states require it), has extensive experience with hurricane damage claims, and has an in-house staff of experts including adjusters, building appraisers, contents experts, and CPAs.
  • Check the policy for deductibles and exclusions - have the selected adjuster review the policy to make suggestions on how to fill the insurance gaps if they exist.
  • Check the business-interruption coverage and property limits to make sure coverage is adequate.
  • Have the public adjuster create some “what-if” scenarios and project how your coverage would perform. Review what is best for your operation: blanket vs. specific, contingent losses, etc.
  • Establish a banking relationship that includes construction financing in the event of a storm.
  • Establish a relationship with a good local architectural firm and engineering firm.
  • Establish a list of selected contractors and negotiate a preferential agreement. The agreement would include a fixed fee percentage over the actual costs or costs per month for services.

After the Storm

  • Life safety should always be your first consideration.
  • Contact your insurance agent about the loss, first by phone and then follow-up in writing.
  • Contact your selected public adjuster to review damages and help secure partial payments from the insurance company.
  • Contact your selected contractor to protect the building from further damage.
  • Take photographs of the damaged area - preferably digital.
  • Test all interior areas for moisture readings and document the readings.
  • Block entry by unauthorized individuals to prevent liability.
  • Set up accounts to track loss-related expenditures including labor.
  • Keep a detailed log of activities and maintain accurate records.
  • Formulate a post-loss business plan which should include public relations to protect your market.
  • Contact your design firms (if needed) to help with any structural or engineering solution to your damages. Work with the architectural firm to detail the repair solutions or the necessary property modifications.
  • Work with the insurance company to manage the cash flow to make the repairs.
  • Review insurance policy for the next storm.

This information was reprinted with permission from Boyken Intl. and the Alex N. Sill Co.Based in Cleveland,the Alex N. Sill Co. is North America's leading authority in providing claim management services exclusively for the policyholder. For more information, visit ( Atlanta-based Boyken Intl. ( is an international consulting firm that provides program management and consulting services - from concept through completion - to building owners, developers and other construction industry clients.

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