The insurance industry refers to the July 11, 2011 straight-line wind storm that hit Tama County, Iowa as a “once in a thousand years” storm. It challenged our insurance agents, farmers, business managers and owners, and residents to deal with damages on an unprecedented scale. So what did we learn from this extreme situation? At the October 25 Tama County Economic Development Commission roundtable we chatted with many people who dealt with the storm from a variety of viewpoints, and offered advice from their point of view:
- Kent Campbell, rural Garwin resident: recommends documenting what you own and keeping another copy of that list off premise. Also in a situation like this where the demand on insurance agents and contractors is overwhelming, you need to take responsibility on following-up and ask questions until you understand. Also try to optimize waste management by finding people who can make use of the totaled barns, cars, steel structures who can also haul it away.
- Mark Kristenmacher, General Manager Mid-Iowa Coop: Offered a lot of advice on re-evaluating coverage on a yearly basis. Also remember to insure properties in the middle of construction. Based on the strong ag economy (and in continuation of it getting stronger and more efficient) suggests rebuilding bigger, stronger and smarter would be a good move.
- Keith Sash, Farmer: as a farmer in the middle of gradual succession as his son takes on ownership of more property, structures and equipment every year, he advises not only for succession planning, but making sure that as the property gets transferred, the insurance between the two generations stays up to date.
- Merle Parks, Garwin City Council: Merle praised and appreciated the help that the city received from surrounding communities including the Newton Correctional Services inmates. The Newton Speedway also donated around 40 trees to help start the next generation of trees due to the extensive losses.
- Greg Ochs, Garwin Mayor: As a downtown property owner Greg cautions other property owners not to assume newer structures can withstand catastrophes better. Sometimes the older structures are more sturdy.
- Brian Sokol, Toledo City Council: Brian reported that the cleanup cost for chipping and hauling damaged vegetation was more than double the projected $20,000 that was initially guestimated.
- Kendall Jordan, Toledo Property Manager: As assistant fire chief he was helping others when it was recommended to him to also check on his own property. One-third of a roof was torn off leaving expensive equipment exposed to additional damage. Without getting approval from insurance he acted fast to replace the roof. Turns out it was not a problem and the claim was reimbursed. He also recommends commercial insurance policy holders check reimbursement for lost income due to downtime. Sometimes they don’t reimburse for the first 72 hours the business needs to close down.
- Jim Owens, Insurance Agent: Explained that the scale of this is something agents in Tama County have never experienced before. So far his agency has paid out $11+ million in claims. The biggest farming claim payout being $660,000. His advice to insurance agents inundated with a catastrophic event of this magnitude is to get out on day 1 even if the phone is ringing off the hook. Look at the damage for yourself, understand the damage, listen to the stories, spot the patterns early on.
- Lindi Roelofse, Tama County Economic Development: Because preparing for the winter and maintaining property values is not just important for residents but also to the rest of the community, two resources are available for owners of residential property that were not adequately insured and may need some assistance to prevent vulnerable properties from getting worse: 1) up to $5,000 from the State, and 2) up to $35,000 from FEMA. Click for details. Deadline for consideration before FEMA rescinds their allocation to Tama County is Thursday Dec. 1, 2011.
A special thank you to all the different contributing community leaders. Our next meeting will focus on featuring 24 of the innovative projects that help built capacity and wealth for Tama County, Iowa.
NEXT COMMISSION MEETING: PICKING OUR 24 EDIES
Tue. Nov 29, 2011
6:30 p.m. (You can also come early and join us for a $8 meal at 6 p.m.)
Elberon Community Center
106 Main Street, Elberon, Iowa
The full meeting will be dedicated to picking the strongest and diverse representation of 24 local projects innovating and building wealth locally in 2011. This meeting is open to the public and free.