Even though natural disasters might not occur very often, ARA Insurance Preferred Agent Jordan Clarke, CSRM, CWCA, vice president, Charles M. Moore Insurance Agency, Bowling Green, Ky., always brings up the topic with his insured clients.
Why? Because his clients live in an area where there is substantial risk of tornadoes and even earthquakes. “Our main concern is tornadoes as far as natural disasters,” Clarke says, noting that during Dec. 10 and 11, 2021, Category EF-3 tornadoes struck western Kentucky, including the cities of Mayfield and Bowling Green, leaving death and massive destruction in their wake.
In addition, “we are in an earthquake zone. The New Madrid Fault Line is in western Kentucky and western Tennessee. It is considered a very active earthquake zone. Because of that, disaster preparedness comes up in conversations with my clients 100 percent of the time,” he says.
Typically, those conversations happen during annual policy renewals, but they also can take place during specific times of the year when threats might be more likely to happen.
“We talk about whether they have a written disaster plan in place, how they communicate that plan to their employees, whether they have another place to stage their operation in the event they have a total loss, etc.,” Clarke says. “When a disaster strikes, you have to know what to do and have a plan in place so everyone knows what to do. That means you need a plan in place that you and your employees have practiced.”
If a rental operation does not have a plan, Clarke offers a checklist and resources, including the Disaster Planning and Recovery Guide from the ARA Foundation, and others from ARA Insurance, the American Rental Association (ARA) and his agency.
“Every operation is different — their location, size, etc. A disaster plan is very much a tailor-made one. You have to go through this to be ready for when something happens. So, we bring in resources that help guide them through the process and get to that final plan,” he says.
Another critical part of the conversation is ensuring that proper coverages are in place, such as property replacement, debris removal, business income and blanket coverages.
“One of the biggest coverages that is so important is business income coverage, which will pay for the continuing fixed expenses that a business will have to pay even if they can’t operate their business. Another big one is replacement coverage. Property values have increased with the inflation of building materials. Both are huge issues we talk about with rental operators. We want to make sure they have enough coverage,” Clarke says.
Clarke, who has been an ARA Insurance preferred agent since 1997, knows that helping rental operators be prepared is only part of his job. Another vital aspect is to help rental operators after a disaster strikes.
“When a disaster hits, it is my job to be the liaison between the claim adjusters and other professionals to help rental operators receive the money they need. Most rental dealers don’t understand the language of insurance. It is our job to be their advocate when something like this happens. They are looking for the agent to be their right hand to help them through the process,” he says.
So for Clarke and other ARA Insurance preferred agents, it is about being there for clients throughout the entire arc of their business.
“As a risk management consultant, we look at things that could be potential claims and what we can change or mitigate so those things don’t happen. Rental operators don’t want to have claims. We want to make sure that we are discussing all that could happen so we can take action before it does,” Clarke says.