Public entities such as schools, government buildings, and even parks owned by municipalities have specialized coverage needs. A hurricane doesn’t discriminate between private and public lands, and can cause interruptions in utilities, damage to roads and playgrounds, and forced rebuilding of older structures. Attorney Bill Voss explores coverage options for municipalities and how to protect against large losses caused by a hurricane.
Tailor Your Hurricane Coverage to the Specific Needs of Your Public Entity
Whether you operate a small village or a sprawling municipal district, your insurance company should be ready to shoulder the burden of hurricane repair costs. The right insurance should protect your property and your reputation, allowing you to continue to serve the public while the physical damage is under construction.
A strong municipal hurricane insurance policy should provide for:
- Property damage. Property damage policies can vary widely depending on the size of the building, contents, and the specific inventory and equipment housed inside. Beware of one-size-fits-all policies that may not cover the full extent of replacement damage. For instance, it may take more to replace all of the damaged books and electronics in a library than in an office building.
- Code upgrade coverage. Municipal buildings such as libraries or town halls may be decades out of date, and governments will have to ensure that the entire structure is up to code during restoration. Upgrade coverage pays for the additional cost of installing new utilities and meeting new building regulations, as well as demolishing aging structures.
- Auto damage. If your insured property has its own vehicles (such as law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, public transportation, and emergency vehicles), you should definitely invest in commercial auto to replace hurricane-damaged vehicles. This coverage should also include any specialized equipment used or stored in the vehicles, such as radar detection in police cars or medical equipment in ambulances.
- Data compromise. Nearly all public entities rely on online platforms to do business, and a long-term outage after a natural disaster can place schools and government agencies at risk of data loss.
- Equipment breakdown. This insurance can be invaluable if hurricane damage has interrupted the normal functioning of sensitive equipment, such as sanitation and solid waste management, water treatment utilities, or machinery in trash and recycling centers.
- Flooding. Most commercial policies will not cover flooding caused by a natural disaster. City properties can be insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but agencies should examine the requirements carefully to ensure coverage.
- Inland marine. While property coverage may protect the structure and contents at your business address, it will not pay for materials and inventory damaged in transit. An inland marine policy extension pays for equipment that is frequently on the move (such as survey equipment), stored offsite, or on its way to your location.
- Builder's risk. If one or more of your properties was already undergoing renovation when the hurricane struck, a builder's risk policy will pay to replace structures and materials lost during new construction.
- Umbrella coverage. Umbrella insurance allows you to recover an amount over and above the amount of the policy if the damage has caused you to exceed policy limits. This extra protection can be invaluable in large loss situations, and may pay to open a temporary location while the primary site is under repair.
Our experienced insurance attorneys can advise heads of counties, parishes, cities, and other municipal agencies of their rights after a hurricane, and we will work to get full and fair payment from your commercial insurance carrier. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact an insurance attorney at the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.