By helping them to put the right measures in place, you can solidify your value and enable nonprofits to continue delivering on their mission, even in the face of disaster.
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE
Take steps to help ensure your clients are prepared for weather-related exposures
By Chris Hale
If forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)’s Climate Prediction Center hold true, this year’s Atlantic hurricane season may be another one to brace for. They have been warning there is a 60% chance of a more active than normal season—which runs from June 1 to November 30—and last year’s record-breaking 30 Atlantic named storms hammered home just how much damage that may cause.
While the loss-adjusting and claims industry sprang into action with new tools, technologies and resources for storm damage assessments and resolutions, this year’s hurricane season will likely pose similar challenges. As hurricane season begins to peak in August, there’s no time to lose in ensuring that your clients—particularly nonprofit and social services organizations that provide critical services to the community—are adequately prepared for the disruption that storms can bring.
We often say in the industry, “Control what you can; plan for the rest.” This is where an effective business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play.
Our firm has helped agents prepare and protect their nonprofit and social services clients through more than 25 hurricane seasons and helped them address the various other challenges they face year-round. You name it; we’ve seen it in this niche. Based on our experience, here are some of the most impactful ways you can help your clients this time of year—and strengthen your role as a valued partner.
Re-evaluate your risk assessments. If you haven’t revisited your clients’ risk assessments in the past few months, now is the time to move the task to the top of your list. Their risks may have evolved since the assessments were last updated, especially as social services organizations continue to flex with the ups and downs of the pandemic.
Having a holistic view of an organization’s current vulnerabilities is key in planning to mitigate them. This might entail advising a nonprofit located in a heavily wooded area to thin out tree limbs and, or encouraging clients to double check that surge protectors are in place on site to reduce the chances of losing stored data on computer systems during power outages.
Ensure an effective business continuity plan is in place. We often say in the industry, “Control what you can; plan for the rest.” This is where an effective business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play. Outlining protocols designed to keep necessary functions running with little to no downtime when normal operations are disrupted, as well as detailing how other functions will be restored as soon as possible, are essential pieces of the puzzle.
A BCP enables vital social service— from a senior daycare center to an at-risk youth counseling program— to continue without skipping a beat when a hurricane takes over an area. However, the plan or process doesn’t have to be overly complicated, especially for resource-constrained organizations. Explore several free resources for developing a simple, effective plan from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center.
Prep for team and client communication. Communication is a key component of a BCP but, despite the best laid plans, communications can and sometimes do break down during a crisis. Beyond the communication protocols outlined in your clients’ plans, suggest that staff and board contact details be shared among the team so everyone has a backup avenue to communicate in real time.
Appropriate leaders should also have easily portable client contact information. In the event of a mandatory evacuation especially, being able to quickly access this information is critical to supporting the safety of an organization’s staff and clients.
Put fuel preparedness on the short list. A nonprofit’s regular fueling schedule and fuel preparedness procedures are adequate for business as usual, but relying on them when a natural disaster strikes is not a risk worth taking. Conventional fuel is typically not available during a disaster. Therefore, nonprofits risk not having fuel for their vehicles or generators. As a result, they may find themselves in unfortunate and costly situations with the loss of power, productivity and grounded vehicles, not to mention the reputational damage from not being able to effectively provide services. Make sure an emergency plan for fuel is on your clients’ short list.
When a natural disaster like a hurricane strikes, the situation has the potential to create chaos and confusion. As an agent and business partner, you’re in a unique situation to help service-focused clients manage those risks, prepare their organizations and minimize disruption. By helping to put the right measures in place, you can solidify your value and enable them to continue delivering on their mission, even in the face of disaster.
Chris Hale is the director at Care Providers Insurance Services (CPS), a program built by NSM Insurance Group, a leading provider of specialty insurance programs. For more than 25 years, CPS has focused exclusively on partnering with independent agents to serve nonprofit and social service organizations across the U.S. with specialized and comprehensive insurance programs. To learn more, visit info.ins-cps.com or contact Chris at CMHale@nsminc.com.