Agents have responsibility to prepare disaster back-up plan

August 21, 2007

Dallas, Texas – August is the peak month for hurricane season – which ends November 30 – and forecasters this month predicted at least three tropical storms are likely to strengthen into ‘major’ hurricanes packing sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

Even if you’re not in a hurricane prone area, insurance agents have a particular responsibility to prepare for disaster. Jennifer Inman, an agent who has worked 15 years in her family-owned business, Mark Inman Insurance Agency, said Unitrin Specialty’s “Open for Businesssm” offer last year made her think.

“Open for Business” is an Internet-based disaster recovery and risk assessment tool available free to Unitrin Specialty customers. It was developed by the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a nonprofit insurance industry association that works to reduce home and business property and related losses. The recovery plan is composed of a series of customizable forms to help businesses recover essential functions and to inform individual employees about their responsibilities. All information is stored confidentially on the IBHS website, but also can be saved to a hard drive, disk or CD, and/or printed for hard-copy storage.

“I live in Wichita Falls, Texas which is in the middle of tornado alley,” said Inman. “We don’t have two-three days to prepare for a coming storm. ‘Open for Business’ prompted me to think about what we would do if we lost our whole office. Even though most of the plan didn’t apply directly to the insurance business, I used the plan as a template rather than a blueprint. The forms provided a great jumping-off point and helped organize my thinking.”

Inman said now she has a binder with essential information like insurance company 800 numbers, blank copies of all important forms, codes, passwords, lien holder lists, letters, renewal lists, change forms, accounting data, and employee contact information. The binder goes with her to the company’s safe room whenever there is a tornado warning.

“It’s my responsibility to my customers to be able to help them out in a disaster, so I need to be prepared myself,” she said. “I can fax in loss notices if my computer is destroyed, but I need a blank claims form so I can copy it. I need the insurance company phone numbers.”

“Open for Business” also prompted Inman to write down those things only she knew about. “I am going on maternity leave soon and since I’ve been here so long, there are just some processes that are in my head. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Agents may access “Open for Business,” valued at $2,000, for free by going to

Unitrin Specialty┬«* is part of Unitrin, Inc., a $3 billion Chicago-based financial services company. Founded in 1946, Unitrin Specialty is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and provides personal and commercial specialty automobile insurance to individuals and businesses through more than 8,500 independent agents/brokers in 23 states. Unitrin member companies are rated “excellent” by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services. Independent Agents can review Unitrin products and services at

(Unitrin Specialty includes: Unitrin County Mutual Insurance Company, Alpha Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Charter Indemnity Company, Financial Indemnity Company and Valley Insurance Company).

Contact: James Dickey
Executive Director, Marketing
972-690-5500, ext. 1502

Unitrin Specialty

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