State Keeps Eye on Erika
Floridians received some good news Saturday morning as Erika began to dissipate. Even so, storm paths and storm strengths can be difficult to predict, so many us will keep watching the Weather Channel this weekend.
It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since Florida saw the unprecedented series of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. Erika serves as a reminder of all of the effort that is needed in preparing for and responding to a hurricane. Governor Scott issued an executive order invoking emergency powers of the state if needed. Although the order does not directly affect the insurance industry, the measures authorized in the order are designed to facilitate an evacuation and post-storm response. The order deals with issues such as traffic control, waivers of certain license and fee requirements, and similar issues designed to increase efficiency during a period when time may be of the essence.
The insurance industry also will recall that part of the post-storm response includes certain changes to procedural requirements and policyholder obligations. These changes typically are not invoked in a tropical storm situation but will apply if a hurricane makes landfall. Insurers generally must provide grace periods for policyholder obligations such as premium payments and defer cancellation and nonrenewal notices. Health insurers also must facilitate prescription drug refills during this temporary period.
With Erika starting to fall apart this morning, hopefully the state will not need to fully invoke these plans and test its catastrophe response. Nonetheless, Erika reminds us that we must remain vigilant and be prepared when another significant storm inevitably occurs.