Hurricane Season Begins as COVID-19 Uncertainty Continues
June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, although tropical storms Arthur and Bertha chose to not follow arbitrary calendar dates. Forecasters warn that the United States will have a more active hurricane season than usual this year. This prediction would cause concerns in any year. This is especially the case in 2020 as Florida and the rest of the country cautiously begins to emerge from stay-at-home orders arising from COVID-19.
Emergency management officials in Florida have been assessing how COVID-19 might affect hurricane preparedness and response plans. For example, officials won’t be able to rely on large locations such as school gymnasiums to house evacuees. Officials instead might be more inclined to have residents weather storms in their homes, or rely on smaller, more separated spaces for evacuations.
Insurers increasingly have been using technology to assist in adjusting claims, including during the active hurricane seasons in 2016-2018. This includes increased use of photos, live and recorded videos, drone footage and similar technologies. Still, providing prompt onsite assistance to policyholders has proven to be a hallmark of success storm responses. COVID-19 creates tension between wanting to conduct onsite inspections as quickly as possible and being cautious with protocols in areas such as social distancing.
2020 is proving to be an unusual and challenging year. Despite the forecasts for an active hurricane season, we can hope this year’s storms spare our coastal areas and don’t test the limits of the abilities of our state and insurers to respond in the COVID-19 era.