Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Digi-cam justification


A FEMA announcement fell into my in-box the other day. The blurb was titled "Being Ready For When The Inspector Calls Can Speed Assistance" (Release Number: 1842-006 if anyone wants to track it down.)

The Montgomery, Ala.-datelined piece focuses on flood recovery efforts and ways that applicants can speed up the process - and put in damage mitigation measures while waiting for the FEMA-assigned inspector to arrive.

Two paragraphs in particular caught my eye.

"FEMA officials said registrants do not have to wait for the inspector to arrive before beginning repairs. Photos, contractor estimates, and receipts can be provided to FEMA inspectors to document the extent of the damage."

"The inspectors all have proper identification and will be able to verify the number assigned to each registrant. Be aware of the potential for fraud. Only a FEMA inspector will have the number that was provided during registration."

Insurance companies - at least mine - tell customers to do whatever it takes to mitigate post-event damage. In other words, if a window is blown or knocked out, get it covered with something to keep out the elements until the glass can be replaced. Save the receipts .

But while some evidence of recent damage is obvious, other damage might be thought "pre-existing." Insurance companies will balk at paying for something that was damaged before the event.

Digital cameras to the rescue.

Business owners and homeowners alike are well advised to take camera/camcorder in hand and to document photographically the pristine condition of their property; Aunt Ann's antique writing desk, the over-priced office furniture bought when the economy was better and we KNEW things were going to get even better.

Camera memory is relatively inexpensive. Shoot everything. Copy the images to a disk - CD, DVD, whatever. Then, take the memory and store it "off site." If the graphics are from company, save the memory at the house and vice versa. Take the disc and mail it to your cousin across the state. The idea is to make certain (a) the images are safe and (b) that the media - memory and disc - can be retrieved in relative short order. Do not depend on the Post Office to deliver the media - it may have its own problems and you may not be where you think you'll be when the mail arrives.

One of the joys of living in southeast Florida is the financial benefit of risk mitigation. On one hand, there are local laws requiring (newer) structures to have wind mitigation and wired-in smoke detectors. On the other hand, insurance companies offer - perhaps by State mandate - discounts for buildings with these features.

Naturally, as a risk management practitioner, I'm delighted. My financial manager also is less aggrieved when the insurance bill arrives - it's still painful.

When we moved into the new abode, I took pictures inside and out. I didn't save the memory, but I did copy the photos to disc and I did put the same photos on the WWW - that equates to putting the memory media in the "other" location. I do practice what I preach.

If ever there was an excuse to buy a digital camera/camcorder, this is as good as it gets. If shooting the business, the camera might be written off as a business expense.

Being able to prove property damage was caused by an event will help assure that the insurance will pay.


John Glenn, MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner
Ft. Lauderdale FL
Planner at JohnGlennMBCI dot com

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