Florida businesses not prepared for hurricane season amid coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

Many businesses in Florida were found to lack the proper insurance to protect themselves from a hurricane in a new survey

With a record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season about to enter it's most active stretch, a survey released last week shows many business owners in the Sunshine State are unprepared as the coronavirus pandemic rages.

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An annual hurricane survey from Florida law firm Berger Singerman released on Wednesday found that many business owners lack the proper insurance to protect themselves from a hurricane.

“Losses from business interruption can snowball after a hurricane, leading to costs exceeding incidents that owners are more commonly insured against, like property damage,” said Gina Clausen Lozier, a partner at Berger Singerman and a leader of the firm’s insurance practice. “When factored against the pandemic’s financial burdens, having no policy protections against further disruptions could be catastrophic for some businesses and their employees.”

HURRICANE SEASON 2020 NAMES AND HOW THEY GET PICKED

More than 50 percent of the over 2,000 businesses polled by the law firm in June responded that they do not have business interruption insurance, and an additional 30 percent responded they do not know if they do.

Many businesses in Florida were found to lack the proper insurance to protect themselves from a hurricane in a new survey. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After shutting down in the spring as the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the country, about 50 percent of the respondents to the survey said maintaining operations was their top priority for hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Many owners expressed the need to keep their doors open after losses suffered from the pandemic.

The survey revealed that many of the respondents were not aware of hurricane coverage for their respective businesses, with many not understanding their insurance policies.

OUTER BANKS ISLAND RAVAGED BY STORMS, VIRUS RESTRICTIONS

In addition to concerns about the hurricane season, the law firm found that nearly 75 percent of respondents admitted they did not know of an approaching deadline of Sept. 10, 2020, to claim losses from Hurricane Irma, which struck the state in 2017.

Data from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s (FLOIR) show that nearly three years after the storm, thousands of insurance claims are still being made.

“Irma will be a significant test for the three-year provision of Florida’s windstorm statute and the numbers show there’s room for improvement,” Clausen Lozier said. “With claims still climbing and our survey indicating many are unaware of the deadline, state lawmakers should consider giving residents and business owners more time, especially during the pandemic.”

HOW CORONAVIRUS IMPACTS STORM CHASERS THIS HURRICANE SEASON

Berger Singerman said it has submitted a letter on behalf of policyholders to Florida’s chief financial officer with Florida Department of Financial Services (FLDFS), requesting a deadline extension.

Another major tropical storm could result in serious economic impacts as Florida continues to deal with rising COVID-19 infections. Hurricane Isaias weakened as it approached Florida over the weekend and spared the state of any major problems

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While nine named storms have developed so far, forecasts call for 13 to 19 named storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

The 2020 Atlantic season will include the names: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

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