FAIA Urges Members to Take Precautions Now for Hurricane Wilma

October 21, 2005

When the National Hurricane issued an alert saying to expect Hurricane Wilma to make landfall on Florida’s southwest coast on Monday afternoon, the Florida Association of Insurance Agents issued an alert urging members to take precautions right away.

The center of the official forecast track cone is closer to Naples. The track crosses the center of Lake Okeechobee and exits Florida around Fort Pierce.

State Emergency Operations Center officials believe Wilma will weaken to category 2 status and possibly even category 1 status before hitting Florida. They are concerned she will carry a very wide wind field and produce significant storm surge on the southwest Florida coast, 17 to 18 feet.

FAIA urged every agent to take appropriate precautions. Evacuate if the Emergency Operations Center issues the order. Review and implement the appropriate portions of your agency Cat. Plan. Remember, all FAIA’s catastrophe assistance is at www.FAIA.com or in FAIA’s catastrophe manual.

FAIA’s Command Post has arranged for the emergency funds, emergency generators, satellite phones and the supplies you might need as well as the travel plans necessary to hand-deliver all four. Your staff is on call with the Emergency Operations Center, where we man the Insurance Desk and where we often obtain advanced information to distribute to you after the disaster (assuming you have a generator and other items necessary to receive our communiques.)

Preparedness reminders

1. Start implementing your agency recovery plan now. Review checklists and update your employee emergency contact list. Find out which employees plan to evacuate and if they have an alternate number where they can be reached.

2. Review your pre- and post-storm procedures with your staff now. You may have new employees who don’t know what to expect from you or what is expected of them.

3. Go to FAIA’s website and print the brochures and informational documents so you can get them duplicated in case your office is affected. Please take time to do this right now! FAIA Catastrophe website. You’ll find a supply list, sample letters to customers, phone numbers to call and much more. After the storm these can be used as handouts for clients waiting in line.

4. Secure your office before leaving work today.

5. Make sure FAIA’s Jennifer Pitts has your emergency contact person, home number, cell, email address if you have not already done so.

6. Don’t wait on FAIA to send you toll-free claim numbers and don’t expect to go to the Command Post at faia.com to get them–not without phones and electricity. Print out the current and recently updated list now. Make many copies and put them in a safe place.

7. If you are one of the few agents who “still” do not have an emergency source of power, take steps now to correct that deficiency.

8. Keep watching the NOAA website for updates on the storm’s position: www.nhc.noaa.gov.

FAIA members were encouraged to email Jennifer Pitts at jpitts@faia.com or call (850) 893-4155 ext. 328 to let us know how you faired and if you need assistance. Letting us know that you are okay helps us assist other agents who may be in need.

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