What to do before bad weather hits.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook for October to April shows an increased risk of flooding in eastern Australia and an increase in the likelihood of tropical cyclones in the north and the Pacific Community for the 2020/21 cyclone season. The usual risk of bushfires, heatwaves and severe thunderstorms for the region remain as expected.
As much as we don’t want our Adventist sites to be impacted by damaging weather, we have to prepare for the reality that property losses are likely to occur this season. These widespread loss events that affect large communities, not just Adventist sites, take longer than usual to recover from and reinstate, and eventually they have an impact on the cost of insurance for everyone.
Obviously storms and significant loss events are out of our control, but how we’re prepared for and respond to them are within our control. Risk mitigation strategies such as site maintenance, building to better immunity, design improvements, land use and planning, vegetation management and levees are all worthwhile prevention and hazard reducing activities that require an investment of time, expertise and capital – so not super helpful given that we’re already being impacted by storm season.
So what is one thing that you can do right now to help your Adventist site achieve the best possible outcome in the unfortunate event of a future loss?
Financial risk mitigation is a loss prevention strategy that may help to lessen the financial burden of a covered loss, but it requires one very important thing:
Documentation and keeping good records are your friends in the event of covered loss. Here are the kinds of documents we suggest you keep:
1. Before and After – photos and videos
Before bad weather hits, take a stack of photos and videos around the property to show the current condition of the buildings both internally and externally, including fences, footpaths and shade sails – even the contents of any fridges or freezers.
Then, afterwards and only if it is safe to do so, take photos and videos of any damage. This provides you with evidence to give to assessors that may help prove whether or not damage is from the loss event or just wear and tear. Feel free to send these images to us to keep on file as a record.
2. Note taking
During or immediately after the loss event, write down or type up on your computer a detailed account of everything you saw and heard, with respect to the damaged property. If you saw rainwater coming into the property, or any other damage, note down exactly what you saw. What did you hear? Did you hear a tree fall and impact something, or water pouring down the internal walls? Did you see hail shredding a shade sail? Just be sure to give a truthful recount of what you heard and saw.
The most important thing is that your notes are “contemporaneous”. This simply means they were written immediately or as soon as possible after the event. If this is sent as an email to us at the time of writing, even better, as that provides further proof of the notes having been made contemporaneously.
This type of evidence will often be given more weight than the judgement of someone coming out to the property weeks later and giving their opinion about what the loss event did or did not do to the property. It is why we will keep repeating the message: “don’t delay, report today!”
3. Proof of ownership / proof of value
Ensure you have a way of finding invoices, receipts and photos of your site’s contents should an assessor ask for these to be provided, as this helps prove ownership (if necessary) and the cost to replace.
An important word about inspecting a site after a significant weather event…
Where a site, such as a church, that is only open on Sabbath may have a storm on a Sunday evening, for example, any damage could potentially go unreported for another week until the next Sabbath service. It is helpful if a pastor or elder is available to inspect a site as soon as it is safe to do so to ascertain if there has been any damage and report to RMS.
We must stress that in the event of a loss or natural disaster we would never expect you to put yourself or anyone else in harm’s way. If you discover that your Adventist site has fallen trees, power lines down, flooding, is under direct bush fire threat or structurally compromised please immediately seek the support of emergency services or the SES, please do not attempt to rectify the situation yourself.
Risk Management Service has helped the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its entities in the South Pacific through damaging and significant loss events since 1972. We are Adventist and we are here to support you. We hope and pray that you are safe this summer, and that you never need to use any of the above information, but if and when you do, know that we will be here for you.
Please feel free to share this article far and wide as we all work to protect the resilience and sustainability of the mission of the Adventist Church.