One year ago, Hurricane Ian made landfall on the coast of southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm, nearly entering Category 5 status with maximum sustained winds near 150 miles per hour before hitting Cayo Costa, a barrier island about 23 miles west of Fort Myers, Florida, at 3:05 PM EDT on September 28, 2022.
Closely resembling 2004’s Hurricane Charley’s wind speed, pressure, location, and landfall time, the storm differentiated itself from Charley and a recent lineup of Gulf hurricanes in diameter (~290 miles) and speed (~8-9 mph). This combination led to record-breaking storm surges of over 7’ in downtown Fort Myers and nearly 14’ at Fort Myers Beach.
Aerial images of a missing Sanibel Causeway, boatless marinas, sand in place of homes, and ground images of rooftops surrounded by water and piles of cars, boats, and their broken pieces illustrated that in days, this storm set off a recovery effort of years for the many affected areas. Hurricane Ian was estimated to have caused nearly $113 billion in damages — the third most costly U.S. hurricane on record following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
As we recognize the anniversary of Hurricane Ian, and the Florida area repairs from Hurricane Idalia, read on to hear from Amerisure’s local experts on the company’s preparedness strategy and specific response to hurricanes for policyholders, agency partners and the Florida community.
How Does Amerisure Plan for Hurricanes?
With offices across the country, Amerisure has a plan in place to prepare in advance for disasters.
“We have a multidisciplinary Hurricane Operations team that initiates engagement when a hurricane threat is projected to hit one of our operating states,” said Anne Marie May, Amerisure’s regional vice president of Risk Management in Tampa, Florida.
“The objectives of each operations meeting are to execute our emergency response protocol, including internal and external communications, employee safety, and continuance of business operations. The team is comprised of leadership from operations such as Claims, Underwriting, Risk Management, Building Facilities, IT, Marketing and Human Resources. We monitor the storm’s progress along with our company’s potential exposure to damages.”
“During Hurricane Ian, employees located in flood zones had to evacuate and a majority of us lost power intermittently. Our business continuity efforts allowed work to be sent to other Amerisure operations so business processes were not interrupted,” said May. “Hurricane Idalia closed our Florida for two days in accordance with county requirements and flooding. We relocated our claims operations out of state and employees who had power worked remotely. When operations resumed at the location and the office reopened, we informed our agency partners.”
Local Support from Amerisure
Amerisure’s Corporate Property Claims Manager, Rick Powell, visited several policyholders after Hurricane Ian, getting a firsthand look at the impact on their clients’ businesses.
“We visited everyone with damaged property sites. We were there to reiterate that ‘we are here for you to help put you back together,” Powell said.
Powell made sure any questions policyholders had were answered, including coverages, timelines, and what happens next. A claims process would begin soon; the visits and conversations aimed to make the whole claims process a little easier on the business side.
“The hurricane passed within 30 miles of my house… Because I was so close, I was able to go down there right away,” said Powell, explaining that as Amerisure claims team members like him receive claims, they make contact as quickly as possible.
“Our goal is to make contact the same day we get the claim – same-day contact in interviewing the policyholders, finding out the damage, and explaining to them the coverages.”
Helping Other Businesses Prepare
“Every company needs to plan ahead for disasters,” said May. “This includes having a detailed Emergency Response / Business Continuity plan along with periodic safety drills. It takes a village to overcome the physical and emotional impacts of a disaster.
“As an insurance carrier in the state of Florida, we know hurricanes will happen,” said May. “We expect this, plan for its impact and complete practice drills to identify any gaps. This way, we remain prepared to support our customers, policyholders and employees in times of emergency.”
Amerisure has a robust catalog for natural disasters, driven by a cohesive team of passionate specialists. Check out our complete library of hurricane preparedness resources.