Almost a decade has passed since a devastating hurricane has hit the Southeast, memories still haunt many commercial real estate owners. Now, hurricane season is upon us again.
Globest.com caught up with Jason Wolf, a shareholder at Koch Parafinczuk Wolf Susen in Fort Lauderdale how property owners and managers whose careers began in the region in the past 10 years should prepare for the storm season. We also asked him about the repercussions that are totally unfamiliar.
GlobeSt.com: Hurricanes in 2004, 2005 and 2008 wreaked havoc on the Southeast. How bad was it?
Wolf: Katrina, Rita and Wilma were Category 5 hurricanes and Dennis was a Category 3 storm that together caused $153 billion in damage in 2005. Those figures blew past a record set the year before, when four hurricanes tore through Florida and headed north, causing $57 billion in damage. In 2008, damage from Ike totaled $37.5 billion.
GlobeSt.com: What was the effect on insurance companies?
Wolf: The storms created dire consequences on many insurance companies. Insurers stopped writing policies in states such as Florida and Louisiana, premiums skyrocketed, and restrictions proliferated. Although for the most part, the market has recovered, property and casualty policies now have multiple exclusions and higher deductibles.
GlobeSt.com: How has that affected property owners and managers?
Wolf: The impact has made it nearly impossible for property owners and managers to know what’s covered and what’s not without sitting down with their insurance agent. This applies to everyone, by the way. For anyone who has survived, there may be a tendency to get a little smug, thinking “I know what to do” In fact, the insurance industry has changed significantly in the past 12 years, and so has property coverage.
GlobeSt.com: What are the first steps a property manager or develop should take?
Wolf: Property managers should sit down with their agents and review each policy. Find out the basics: What’s covered and what’s not? What’s the deductible? Are hurricanes explicitly covered?
For example, in some coverage for hurricanes, the deductible can be up to 7% of total. On a $10 million property, that’s $700,000. Property managers and insurance professionals should total the dollar amounts on the main policy and other policies that address windstorm, flood, storm surge and wind-driven rain. But policies have different types of exclusions. Read your policy! And if you can’t understand, it, talk to your agent or your insurance company.