Survey results consistently show that most agencies don’t join FAIA for its advocacy, much of which they’ll never see up close and personal.

Advocacy isn’t just lobbying the Legislature. Advocacy is also what happens at all points along FAIA’s spectrum: industry affairs, regulatory and legal assistance, professional development and best practices, technology guidance, etc. It is what we do and it is with purpose. When an agency does experience it, or is personally assisted by FAIA’s unique form of advocacy, they can often become a “lifer.” Such is the case when agents help agents after hurricanes. FAIA’s renowned Agency Catastrophe Guide was born from volunteer leaders and it has caused your association to become well-trained in helping agents recover after a major catastrophic event.

Hurricane Michael recently reminded us that this type of advocacy happens at a very local and personal level after a catastrophe. Just ask FAIA Chairman Anthony DuBose. Hurricane Michael ravaged both his hometown of Marianna and his adopted city of Panama City. More than 25 member-agencies in the Panama City Beach area suffered damages to their businesses or homes, and some were completely destroyed. 

His “Message from the Chair” in the soon to be published 2019 Membership Directorysums it up like this: “The agents—and FAIA staff—I’ve met through my participation are not just colleagues, but also friends. I have leaned on many of them from time to time in my career and personal life. There’s no better demonstration of that professional and personal support than FAIA’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael…That’s something I will never forget.”

Here’s a quick snapshot that helps demonstrate the magnitude of the storm and the level of FAIA’s response to it:

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the total number of claims made as of January 18, 2019, is 142,057, with 73.4 percent of claims closed. The OIR’s latest estimate of total insured losses is around $5.3 billion. (Data calls are scheduled weekly through February 1, so these numbers likely will change somewhat.)

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. alone estimates its total incurred losses (paid plus reserves) at more than $98 million. You can see Citizens' latest report below.

Twelve members applied for support from the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund, which paid out $26,000 in grants to cover uninsured losses.

FAIA staff assessed the needs of 72 member-agencies and personally visited nearly every one of them. In some cases, during our initial response, agency buildings were severely damaged and inaccessible. Staff delivered 22 cell phones to assist with taking claims and communication; half of those phones also functioned as hot spots. Perhaps the most important lesson learned from Michael is that agencies should secure service with several different cell phone/Internet providers.

FAIA’s Catastrophe Response Vehicle served as a make-shift office in Panama City more than 86 days, its longest deployment to date. The CRV provided desk space, laptops, and satellite Internet service to member agents. 

While agents in the affected area are breathing easier, the recovery process for those affected by Hurricane Michael is ongoing. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Donate or sign up to volunteer for REBUILD 850. Launched on November 1, 2018, and co-chaired by former Florida House Speakers Allan Bense and Will Weatherford and former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, REBUILD 850 is dedicated to keeping North Florida’s recovery front and center through ongoing support.

Make sure to contact your local Armstrong Insurance agent in order to obtain a quote on auto, home or commercial insurance policies anywhere in Florida.

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