Last week, Zurich Insurance launched a new pre-emergency response team to assist business owners in dealing with last minute risk assessment and quick fixes two to four days prior to the arrival of an impending hurricane. Bringing in on site expertise before a storm helps put the focus on addressing risks on the front end rather than simply dealing with the consequences after a hurricane occurs. The announcement came just as the Atlantic hurricane season gets underway.
“Those few days waiting for a named hurricane to reach land are among the most stressful for business owners who wonder if they’ve done everything they can to protect their businesses from the wind and water such a storm can bring,” said Tom Fioretti, chief risk engineering officer for The Zurich Services Corporation. “This on site ‘boots on the ground’ consultation in those waking hours provides last minute peace of mind that everything has been covered.”
The advancement of science in predicting the path and intensity of major wind storms makes it possible to predict when and where storms will reach land. That accuracy combined with Zurich geo-coding of customer locations allows Zurich to identify which of its customers are likely to be in the path of the storm and which could benefit from immediate pre-emergency response team expertise.
Once a storm has been named and just days before landfall, a seasoned team of Zurich risk engineers will travel to the area expected to be impacted by the storm and help its customers prepare. As an addition to its current pre-storm customer risk consultation, customers will have the option to request an on site visit from the team. Members of the response team will review a company’s emergency response plan and look for gaps or important updates that can be quickly resolved. They also will complete a facility walk-through assisting the customer in evaluating what can and should be done to prepare in the time available. This evaluation will include:
- Assessment of the need to relocate/elevate stock, records and equipment in below grade areas and above grade areas likely to flood.
- Review in-transit shipments for possible diversion to facilities not in the path of the storm.
- Assessment of generator needs and susceptibility of high-value, temperature sensitive stock or stock susceptible to water damage.
- Inspection of roof areas for blocked drains, properly secured roof-top equipment and the condition of flashing. Identify repair work that can be completed in the time available.
- Discussion of flood gates, flood barriers and sand bags staging to prepare for use.
- Survey of the property surrounding the building, looking for loose equipment, signs, outdoor furniture, landscaping, etc. that could become airborne, and secure or move indoors.
- Review the supplies, safety equipment and procedures for any staff that are expected to remain on-site during the emergency.
Once risks are pinpointed and solutions recommended, Zurich can assist customers in identifying what outside resources might be needed for implementing last minute remedies.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Lessons learned from Katrina and other storms like Superstorm Sandy have helped to change the way Zurich operates, putting greater focus on pre-disaster planning to reduce risk and create more resilient communities.
Zurich offers advice on preparing for hurricane in the 48 hours prior to the storm on its website. To watch a video “Hurricane Preparedness – 48 Hours Out” and to download RiskTopics on windstorm preparedness go to http://www.zurichna.com/zna/windstorm/resources/knowledge-center.htm.
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