It’s in the wake of devastating weather events like Hurricane Michael that the importance of insurance companies in supporting not only individuals and businesses but whole communities to get back onto their feet is made clear.
Speaking to National Public Radio for a piece on the aftermath of the storm, Alfa Insurance adjuster Chris Chandler said meeting with residents to assess the damage of the event takes an emotional toll.
“You’re talking to people [whose] houses are destroyed. All their belongings, their wedding or their children’s pictures, things like that are just gone. And nothing, no amount of money, is going to get an image back of your parents that are passed away. That’s not going to get an image back of your child’s first birthday. You wish that you could just snap your fingers and make everything back to normal,” he said
In Mexico Beach, the ruins of what was once a thriving Florida resort town stand testament to a life after the catastrophe that is anything but normal. People are missing roofs or entire sides of houses. Residents wander homeless through mounds of rubble trying and failing to tell apart their crushed belongings from their neighbor’s debris that has blown over from two streets away.
It’s a wonder that even the rubble is still standing considering the ferocious speeds with which Hurricane Michael exploded onto the shores of Mexico Beach — winds of over 150 miles per hour and a 14-foot wall of mighty ocean destroying everything in its path.
According to the town’s fire chief, Sandy Walker, 95 per cent of all buildings – houses, condos and hotels – are now only piles of splintered wood or gutted, uninhabitable skeletons of homes and businesses.
As for the future of Mexico City, the town’s Police Chief Anthony Kelly told local media that while things may never be the same again, of all 1,200 residents he has spoken to, everyone has vowed to rebuild.
“This is a resilient town,” Kelly said. “They’re all wanting to make sure that each neighbor on each side and the neighbor after that is fine. More than the devastation that’s going on in their lives they continue wanting to check on someone else. That is Mexico Beach. You can’t buy that.”
It’s in this quest to resurrect the town that the work of insurance agencies in providing the wherewithal to start again is so crucial.
Security First Insurance Florida has announced an expansion of their team of insurance professionals, working around the clock to help policyholders as quickly as possible. They’re expecting to receive more than 4,000 claims from the storm.
American Integrity Insurance Group sent out a message of support to all those affected.
“Helping Panhandle residents get their homes – and lives – back to normal in the aftermath of Michael is the highest priority of Tampa-based American Integrity Insurance Company. It has mobilized members of its disaster recovery team and deployed its mobile catastrophe unit to the Panama City area to help customers get the claims process started as quickly as possible.”
Florida Peninsula Insurance Company and Edison Insurance Company have also jumped into action with their President Clint Strauch announcing extra measures of support for those affected.
“Our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of our customers. In the aftermath of this truly devastating storm, we want to reassure all policyholders that we are standing by to assist in the recovery and rebuilding process.” Said Mr. Strauch.
Insurance companies have a history of going above and beyond in the aftermath of natural disasters in the US. They gave generous aid above required payments in the record-breaking 2017 season which saw the first occurrence of three category four hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — make landfall in the United States and its territories in a one-year period.
Insurance heavyweight Texas Mutual opened up a charitable grants program in the weeks following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey with a total support payout of $10 million for its workers’ compensation policyholders. Giving out up to $10,000 at a time to policyholders that were affected, a total of 1,107 applications were approved by Texas Mutual, and the insurer tallied the final total at $10,618,497 approved grants.
American International Group Inc. donated $1 million in aid to organizations focused on emergency relief and ongoing recovery following Hurricane Harvey. AIG allocated $500,000 to Houston-based nonprofits for immediate local relief efforts and the remaining $500,000 supported critical medium- and longer-term recovery efforts in partnership with The Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
This is just a small snapshot of the financial contributions made by insurers across the nation to help disaster-stricken US communities get back up on their feet. It’s this life rebuilding work that Stormseal managing director Matthew Lennox hopes Stormseal can continue to support into the future.
“Our insurers are so important to the resilience of our communities, especially hurricane-prone areas like Florida. And that’s why I’d love to see as many insurers as possible have access to a time-saving, make safe solution like Stormseal that gives hurricane survivors their security back as quick as possible and frees insurance companies up to spend more time doing the crucial work of sorting out claims that help rebuild resilient towns like Mexico Beach.”