FAIA's Catastrophe Claims Committee has worked with the state's partners in a recovery program to develop a volunteer assistance network to facilitate providing and receiving needed help and supplies as other catastrophes occur.
The state has been divided into 15 zones. A copy of the zone map is included as Exhibit 2-1. Each zone has a coordinator who also serves as a member of the FAIA Catastrophe Claims Committee. The zone coordinator is responsible for the incoming and outgoing assistance to a Zone. Local Boards within each zone will already have some catastrophe plans and procedures in place. They will also be able to recommend people for the Zone's CAT Team and coordinate assistance to agencies in need.
In the event of a catastrophe, the Zone Coordinator will be in contact with the county insurance liaisons and the zone coordinator of the adjacent area (Buddy Zone) for either incoming or outgoing assistance. Zone coordinators should be aware when a storm is threatening and prepare their zones for the necessity of either incoming or outgoing assistance. The zone coordinators will immediately activate their county liaisons to deal with the catastrophe.
The zone's CAT team should meet at least once per year to review its respective plan for the upcoming hurricane season. The zone should establish its plan for contact with its member agencies to enlist their aid for outgoing assistance and for contact in the event that incoming assistance is needed. See Appendix for suggestions on the catastrophe planning meeting.
The zone coordinator and the zone CAT team will attempt to match incoming and/or outgoing assistance between agencies that may be compatible and interested in receiving or offering assistance.
If contact with the zone coordinator cannot be made, then FAIA should be contacted.
The zone CAT team should contact all members in its zone to ask them to enroll in a Volunteer Assistance Network. The enrollment form is in the Appendix.
Establish A Media Plan
Following a devastating storm, the tendency might be to avoid taking time with the media in order to handle agency business. However, the press will find someone to speak for the industry, so it is better that we, rather than the press, select the spokesperson. To illustrate the problem, refer to Bob Heffron's comments in the Appendix. Misinformation and rumors typically abound in a catastrophe environment, and a knowledgeable spokesperson for the industry can help a great deal to minimize the added confusion and frustration created by misinformation.
As a guideline for dealing with the media, refer to Chapter 4. It will be very important for the spokesperson to be able to respond in clear and concise terms to the major, obvious questions that will be asked. These include: coverage issues; claims procedures; time lines; advice to policyholders; general industry activities during the recovery.
One step that can help inform policyholders about what's being done, as well as promote the independent agency system, is to run a Public Service Announcement ("PSA") on radio and or TV. PSAs are usually aired at no charge in the interest of public service. Here is a PSA prepared by one FAIA local board:
HERE IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS OF :IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED PROPERTY DAMAGE FROM (NAME DISASTER) AND YOU ARE INSURED THROUGH AN INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENT, PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT DISASTER TEAMS ARE BEING SET UP TO APPRAISE DAMAGE AND TO EXPEDITE CLAIMS. CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE AGENT AS SOON AS CONDITIONS PERMIT.
Another way of informing clients about the special efforts of independent agents is to run a newspaper ad. FAIA has prepared sample ads, including artwork if desired, which are available to local boards free of charge. These ads are "camera ready," and can be given to the local newspaper for publication. FAIA will typeset the name of the local board into the ad. See the Appendix.
Some local boards have included in their catastrophe plan a project to run an ACORD Notice of Loss form in the newspaper. It is hoped that policyholders will bring these forms to the agency with at least some basic information completed.
Other local boards have prepared a short catastrophe video, which is a cross between a PSA and an advertisement for Big-I agents. While true PSAs usually air at no charge, most TV stations seem to view these videos as mostly advertising, and charge accordingly. One potential drawback to such projects, which are usually expensive to produce and air, is that after a major storm, not many local people will be watching TV (if, indeed, they still have a TV).
Prepare a Telephone and Address List of Local Emergency Organizations.
In developing this list, try to make it as inclusive as possible with all local emergency and disaster agencies listed, as well as a description of their chain of command. Once developed, the list should be forwarded to each member agency. The list should include information on the:
ZONES FOR FAIA'S CATASTROPHE ASSISTANCE VOLUNTEER NETWORK
Guide for Zone Coordinators
The following is a plan of action that will come into play when a tropical storm or hurricane is within three days of potential landfall in Florida.
Three Days Before the Storm
FAIA staff will initiate contact with each zone coordinator and provide them with the latest information on what forecasters are expecting. The zone coordinators will then contact every county liaison in their zone to be sure they are aware of the impending storm.
If agency plans have not been made by this time to acquire disaster supplies, then immediate action should be taken, to obtain these supplies.
When a storm is within 72 hours of potential Florida landfall, check the home page of the FAIA Web Site at www.faia.com and link to the latest information from the State Emergency Operations Center or the National Hurricane Center.
Zone coordinators should make sure they have their SERT badges (which are needed for access into stricken areas immediately after a disaster) and the record-keeping charts for the badges. We are required to keep a written record of each badge number and the agent to whom it was assigned after a disaster. Zone coordinators should also be prepared to answer questions from media regarding how homeowners can prepare for a storm to mitigate property damage.
Two Days Before the Storm
Zone coordinators will contact volunteers who may be ready to assist other agencies when a disaster strikes. (We are currently in the process of soliciting volunteers for this plan.) Zone coordinators should assist in making travel and lodging arrangements for volunteers.
All zone coordinators in areas threatened by an impending storm should remain in contact with FAIA's Jeff Odom, who will be attending briefings and answering calls at the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Zone coordinators should reestablish contact with their local county emergency management directors to review how the insurance teams can assist during the impending disaster.
FAIA will send brief news releases to media in areas of anticipated storm impact, providing them with the names, phone numbers and other contact information for the zone coordinators. Zone coordinators should remain in contact with FAIA. Also, they should continue to be prepared to answer questions from the media in respects to mitigating losses.