October 20. This was Sunday. Like many others in Dallas,I stopped watching the Cowboys game and sought shelter. I then spent 2 hours in the pantry that night making up Disney trivia for the kids, and though my home was on the path, the tornado lifted up, and I was spared that. The F3 tornado, traveled along Royal lane, and up to Forest, hit the building where I leased office space. You may remember the Home depot that looked like a can opener went through it. My building was just in front of that along 75.
The building itself didn’t look that bad, but all the HVAC units were damaged on the roof. Water had rained in, ceiling tiles were laying on the ground. Sheet rock and carpet were very wet. My office property did not have a ton of damage, but the ceiling tiles fell down on my printer which was sitting in water.
On Tuesday we were allowed in to get personal items that we needed. It took me an hour to make the light from Royal to 75. 3 blocks.
On Thursday we were told that we would be allowed in to move out whatever we needed on Saturday. So…I rushed to get movers ready. On Friday we were told we would need to move completely out. And I found a storage unit nearby. Friday night at 11PM, they moved the move date to Monday because of rain on Saturday. It then rained on Monday as we moved out. There was no electricity in the building, so it was dark and musty. It smelled like cat urine. Everyone else was moving out of the building also, so it was crowded. Moving out of the building made me so sick I couldn’t speak for 2 days. Mold or something got kicked up, I think, combined with the rain and stress.
To tell you it was stressful was an understatement. At the same point, there wasn’t enough time in the day to be stressed about it. If you haven’t moved in a while, there is some very instinctual thing about our space our sense of stability and where our stuff is. Displacement is tough. There are also a thousand little decisions that happen all day long when you move. It’s so tiring. I had moved personally at the end of September, so moving again in October was not fun. One of my clients joked to me that moving is God’s punishment for all your sins.
Between moving out of the office, setting up movers, changing the movers, working from home, finding a storage space, looking for a temporary space... there was a lot going on.
I began touring co-working spaces.. Although coworking spaces are 3 times what I was paying, moving completely in to a new space, setting up internet and phones and desks for a short time seemed daunting. We tried working from home for a bit, but I was in the process of training someone and we had yet to discover the power of Zoom.
Despite the fact that I sell insurance, I was initially hesitant to call in the claim. I didn’t have a ton of damage. It was an inconvenience for sure. But, when we got the coworking rates and the storage space rates, and the movers rates, we finally did.
Business income coverage is designed to keep you going when you have no income coming in the door. The bills don’t stop. Having a good plan can help you reduce your losses and get you back to work faster.
I felt like my claims adjuster was a savior at points. And my job as insurance agent didn’t stop. I was on the phone with my clients talking to them about roofers, giving referrals to contractors and advising on how to handle their claims. One of my carriers called me during this time and said- hey your client is in the middle of the disaster zone, and we haven’t heard from them. Are they ok? When I was moving out of our building, I was dealing with a huge cyber extortion claim with one of my clients, downloading and sending them copies of their policies from my phone. Which is really something else to be aware of- when there is a huge issue like the tornado, the criminals see this as a huge opportunity to defraud and con people. Think recently to the Covid hoaxes that have made the news. This is all happening in the last quarter which is our busiest time of the year. Because we are a boutique firm, for many clients, we handle ALL of their insurance. And many have health insurance policies roll over on January 1. Other clients want their policies to tie into a calendar year. So… it is busy… Even before there is an event like this.
You can imagine how I felt when, on December 15, the landlords let us know they were terminating our leases. The building was a total loss. Apparently one side of the building had shifted
I was 2 years into my lease, with another year to go. My old plan was to potentially buy a space at the end of my lease, but it wasn’t the right time for that We debated staying longer in the coworking space since we were not at the max of our business income limit, but there were 3 of us in one office and needed more space. So, I finished out the year at the coworking space, started looking again for space in January, in a totally different leasing environment. The rents were higher, and there were less smaller spaces. I finally found a space, Moved AGAIN, (apparently I have a lot of sins to attone for)for a March 1 start date (and enjoyed all of 15 days in our new space before Corona sent us home.) But, the insurance company paid for the movers, again, so that was a huge help. And despite the fact that our new rent is higher than the old, that is the end of our business income expense and end of my claim.
I was prepped for:
The data was in the cloud- this was a huge help to us. We picked up our laptops and cellphones and we carried on. We are even more paperless now because of this time.
I had a great insurance policy, with the right coverages. This helped mitigate our losses. We didn’t have to come up with a ton of money out of pocket to pay for our coworking space or moving, or any of that.
I had my insurance agent (ME!) on speed dial and we had many a conversation.
We could forward our phones so we didn’t lose any calls.
We tell our clients that we are always available to help with claims and to call us with any questions, so we fielded a lot of calls and were able to direct people to reputable tradespeople for estimates and repairs.
I was not prepped for:
I didn’t have a formal disaster plan. My team didn’t know what our disaster plan was. I talk more about Disater Plans in this post. https://www.gibbagencydallas.com/blog/post/how-a-disaster-plan-and-business-income-coverage-can-save-your-business
What happens in inclement weather- setting up expectations for employees- it seems like a no brainer, but telling employees to stay home, stay safe and seeing the relief on their faces.
Having a back up space. Or how important that would be for us.
It's hard to be prepped for the unknown. Luckily, that is what insurance is for and we are here to help you plan for any future disasters!