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At least 6 killed, dozens hurt and over 100 homes damaged in Granbury tornadoes

Granbury Tornado With Water 2013-05-15

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said at a press conference this morning that all six people who died were adults, although he did not release their names or other details.

He said 37 others were known to be injured, and around 110 homes damaged or destroyed. Sheriff Deeds said the death count could rise as seven people remain unaccounted for and nearby rural areas had not been searched thoroughly. But he did not expect anyone else to be found in the rubble.

At iMGA we are honored to be able to help restore people’s belongings after severe weather events. But every spring we are reminded that:

  • Nature is an awesome, powerful and unpredictable force, and
  • Some losses simply cannot be replaced.

We are proud to provide insurance for thousands of Texas homeowners and we work every day to live up to the trust placed in us by our agents and customers, but we often wish we could do even more. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Granbury, and all the others who have been and will be affected by severe weather.

Some video from Granbury:

As insurance professionals we should be acutely aware that emergencies can and do happen very frequently. Recent storms and power outages have reminded all of us in Texas about how true that is.

It is critical that every agency have a contingency plan to deal with such emergencies. Fortunately, developing a basic plan is not that difficult.

List Your Critical Systems

If you’re like most agencies you need access to:

  • phones,
  • your agency management system,
  • your accounting system,
  • email,
  • the internet (to access carrier and bank web sites),
  • a scanner or fax machine for documentation from clients or to carriers,
  • etc.

You may also depend on any number of other systems. Just list them all out.

This doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s much more important to think through everything in advance and be prepared than it is for this to be a fancy, formal process. The end result can even be a simple table that might look something like this:

System Location Vendor Name Backup Remote Access?
Email Offsite Google Automatic Yes
Quickbooks Mary’s Computer Intuit None No
Fax Machine Onsite Verizon Another at Home After phone number is forwarded

Review the List

It will probably become very obvious quickly where your weak spots are. If your agency were flooded, or if power were out in your neighborhood, or if a storm prevented anyone from getting to your office, what would you not be able to access? It’s quite likely that just like in the simple example above, the areas that you must fix are very clear.

Plug the Holes

Use backup software. Switch to a laptop the next time you need a new computer in the office. Change systems to one that is hosted for you so that it can be accessed remotely. Change phone companies or upgrade to a Voice-Over-IP system that you can use as if you are in your office from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

The options are many.

In many cases if you make the changes systematically you’ll actually save money at the same time that you improve your ability to recover from a disaster.

Is it really that easy?

Like anything else worthwhile it takes a little work. But with some advanced planning it can sure make you glad you did it.

How do we know?

We’ve had critical equipment stolen, weather shut down access to the office, and transformers explode. Thanks to automatic continuous backup, data security plans, a Voice-over-IP phone system, offsite hosting of all of our core systems, we didn’t miss a beat.

Do you have a contingency plan for your agency? What is in it that we forgot to mention? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

Hurricane season just started and there’s already a tropical storm potentially threatening at least part of the Texas coast.

So, effective immediately and until further notice, additional exposure cannot be bound in the following counties in any line of business (MobileHome, TDP1/TDP3 Dwelling Fire, Admitted HOA/HOA+, Vacant or Non-Admitted HOA/HOA+/HOB):

Angelina, Aransas, Atascosa, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Brooks, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Colorado, De Witt, Duval, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kenedy, Kleberg, La Salle, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Starr, Trinity, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Willacy, Wilson, Zapata

Also, additional exposure cannot be bound in the following counties for the Non-Admitted HOA/HOA+/HOB line of business:

Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Brazos, Burleson, Caldwell, Cherokee, Comal, Dimmit, Frio, Hays, Houston, Kendall, Lee, Leon, Madison, Medina, Milam, Nacogdoches, Panola, Robertson, Rusk, Shelby, Travis, Trinity, Uvalde, Williamson, Zavala

We will let you know as soon as we can resume business as usual. In the meantime, our thoughts are with those who might be affected.

Please visit our web site for policy status, endorsements or quoting, or call Mike at 512.494.4161 x13 or Tony at x12 if you have any questions.

According to a new National Insurance Crime Bureau report, both non-suspicious and suspicious hail claims increased dramatically from January 1, 2006 through March 31, 2010.

During this time frame, the number of hail loss claims filed with insurers increased by 61 percent, from 256,000 in 2006 to over 413,000 in 2009. At the same time, the number of claims referred to NICB for suspected fraud increased by 136 percent, from 301 in 2006 to 711 in 2009.

During this period, Texas was the top state in both hail loss claims and hail loss QCs with 298,798 claims and 521 QCs. The top 10 states represented 75 percent of the total number of hail losses and 82 percent of the QCs.

“These statistics back up what our agents have been experiencing in their field investigations,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “There are a lot of unscrupulous fly-by-night roofers and repairmen who are what we call ‘storm chasers.’ They follow the storms and deliberately try to rip off unsuspecting home owners and their insurers by making unnecessary repairs or deliberately inflicting intentional damage to a roof or siding to try to get insurance money.

“The increase in questionable hail loss claims shows that insurers are on the lookout for these scam artists, and home owners need to be leery of companies offering a free roof without first checking with their insurer to ensure there is legitimate damage and the repair company is reputable.”

Is the NICB right? Is it unscrupulous roofers that are the cause of both increases? Is improved diligence by companies the sole or main reason behind the increase in claims reported as questionable? Are homeowners are losing integrity? Or are we actually seeing more hail storms as part of some cyclical weather pattern change? What do you think? Click on the “comment” button above and let us know.

As we head into Texas’ peak hail weather season, these are much more than casual thoughts for us. If you are a homeowner living in Texas, be sure to talk with your agent and be sure you have the coverage you need. If you’re a Texas agent looking for a great property market, contact us.

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