Although you might not see local agents on the news during hurricane recovery coverage or in the aftermath of a flood, insurance professionals have a major role to play when it comes to community weather resilience. That’s because most of the rebuilding, restocking, and reinvigorating of homes and community businesses following a severe weather event will be executed using payouts from policies that were purchased from a local advisor.
How insurance agents can make a difference in the face of growing weather challenges
For insurance providers who are passionate about protecting their local communities and economies, it’s time to level up the industry’s approach when it comes to severe weather risks. Here are the two main tactics local insurance professionals can use to help weather-proof their communities:
The most obvious way for insurance agents to serve their community is to provide insurance, right?
To create packages that make sense for their specific customer base, advisors must build their own inside-out understanding of weather risks in their area. That could involve collaboration with a private forecasting service or weather expert to understand both historic weather patterns in the area as well as emerging trends. With that knowledge in hand, providers can craft offerings that protect people better and more specifically than ever before.
In areas where weather risks are escalating quickly, revisiting existing policies with an eye toward making strategic improvements makes sense for both the provider and the insured. Many current homeowners might not have hurricane or flood coverage as part of their policy because the services didn’t seem relevant at the time when they purchased their home. Given the trend toward increasingly large and erratic storms, the areas where weather insurance isn’t relevant are shrinking, and coverage needs to expand to reflect that.
To use a current example, Hurricane Ian affected many communities in South Carolina, where hurricane insurance is not nearly as common as it is in Florida, with costly results. Insurance agents throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic must seal up those gaps before the next major storm in order to protect their local communities and economies.
2. Advocate for community weather-readiness
Insurance professionals are among the most active and visible businesses in their communities. Whether it’s participation in chambers of commerce, sponsorship of local teams and events, or coordinating seasonal charity drives, local agents are often at the forefront of generating positive engagement, both among businesses and between businesses and the community at large.
One way advisors can leverage that position for the good of the community is to raise awareness of both the growing frequency and potential impact of severe weather events that might affect the area. By increasing community-wide knowledge, the agent can both serve the community’s greater good and increase market awareness of the relevance of their services.
By stimulating support among the community or chamber of commerce, insurance providers can generate momentum that can be used to make positive changes at the town, city, or county level. When voters and local businesses make weather-readiness a talking point, mayors and councils must follow by increasing forecasting capacity, funding emergency response, and investing in communication systems that can keep people and property safer.
Again, this advocacy is of tremendous value to everybody involved. When the community is properly insured and the local government takes proactive steps to reduce potential weather impacts, there’s a much clearer path to a speedy recovery from a damaging storm, flood or wildfire. At the same time, by building a weather-ready community, the insurance provider has also done everything in their power to decrease the likelihood of a mass high-value claims event.
Forging stronger, safer communities
Weather-proofing the people, places and businesses we care about is one of the great emerging challenges of our time. Local insurance agents provide the main lifeline citizens and businesses rely on to make things right when Mother Nature strikes. Moving forward, insurance advisors must live up to their name and provide true guidance and leadership to make communities safer and better in the face of escalating environmental risks.
Mark D. Miller is Chief Commercial Officer of AEM. He may be contacted at [email protected].