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Public Insurance Adjuster Urges Tampa Businesses to Prepare for a Different Type of Storm as the RNC Approaches

August is the beginning of Florida’s high hurricane season, but Tampa claims adjuster Charles R. “Dick” Tutwiler warns of a different type of storm coming in the wake of the much anticipated Republican National Convention. The Tampa insurance adjuster urges businesses and property owners who may be impacted by the event to fully understand their insurance protection and offers steps they should take now.
April 9, 2012 / TAMPA, Fla. / 

Loss Consultant and Public Insurance Adjuster Charles R. “Dick” Tutwiler and his Tampa firm Tutwiler & Associates have handled property insurance losses for virtually every large weather event in the Gulf Coast Region. From Hurricane Andrew back in 1992 to Hurricane Ike in 2008, his team has experienced almost every type of loss situation from catastrophic fires to extreme tornado damage and floods.  Now the 39 year insurance veteran is seeing some insurance related dark storm clouds that will accompany the Republican National Convention coming to Tampa in August, and urging business owners to take notice.  “Having the global spotlight on our beautiful city and the surrounding Tampa Bay communities is sure to create a long-term positive economic shot-in-the-arm for the area business community,” says Tutwiler.  “The thousands of convention visitors in our community and press officials sending media reports all across the globe is clearly a chamber of commerce official’s dream come true.”

However, Tutwiler says we only need to look back at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN to understand what may happen in Tampa.  It was reported that over 300 people were arrested, with upwards of 137 charged with a felony of “conspiracy to commit riot.” In St. Paul, crowds were tear-gassed and local police, the FBI, and the Secret Service cordoned off areas in an effort to maintain law and order. “No doubt, the authorities were as prepared as they could be,” says Tutwiler.  “But remember, this was 2008, during the very early stages of the “great recession,” well before the bailouts, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the socio-economic class distinction as expressed by the 99% versus the 1% crowd.  Potentially the political and economic turmoil of the past few years could be a harbinger of a more volatile environment this time around.

With a reported 15,000+ demonstrators expected and the potential for civil unrest, Mr. Tutwiler is urging businesses and property owners who operate in the convention area to “prepare now” to protect their property and business revenue.  “Just as we constantly remind our clients and to prepare a disaster recovery plan each hurricane season, businesses should be planning for the storm of RNC related protests and likely impact that civil officials and law enforcement could play in this dynamic,” says Tutwiler.

He expects the first line of defense to prevent disruption will be the civil authorities restricting access to areas perceived as trouble spots. Unfortunately this will consist of an entire downtown area that includes the Tampa Convention Center as well as the actual site of the convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Other areas such as municipal and federal buildings are also expected to be cordoned off.

So what happens if there is a denial of access by the civil authority to an area where your business is located?  Does your property insurance policy cover a loss of income and ongoing expenses your business incurs? While some may think this is a straight forward issue, Tutwiler says it is, like most insurance policy coverage issues a complicated and fact driven matter.

Business owners should be aware that the wording in their property insurance policy is critical for this coverage. Equally important may be the actual civil authority language that is drafted by the authorities to authorize the police and perhaps the National Guard to mobilize and move in place to restore law and order. 

Tutwiler says there are several steps Tampa business owners should take which include understanding their insurance coverage and the protection it may provide should areas be closed due to civil authority orders. Some losses flowing from actions taken by the civil authorities may be recovered through proper planning and placement of the correct insurance product. Here is his advice:

  1. Check to see if your business or professional offices are in a proposed security zone or an area likely to be part of protest event. Just look to the Occupy Tampa movement and multiply that by 100, says Tutwiler! A good resource for this information may be City Hall, the Tampa Chamber of Commerce or local law enforcement authorities.
  2. Play close attention to the media. Many local media will have dedicated websites for the RNC. Information about the steps that will be taken and the areas impacted in a civil authority declaration by city, state, and federal law enforcement will be released as the convention date gets closer.
  3.  Check your insurance coverage. In this tough economic environment, Tutwiler says they have found some businesses cutting back on coverage or even letting their property policy expire. Don’t be caught unprepared.
  4. Remember -- actual physical damage to your property as a result of a fire or some other covered peril from a riot may well be covered, but you will not be paid for your loss of business income and continuing expenses if there is no physical damage to your property.  If civil authority officials won’t let you or your clients access your property or an area where your business is located, you cannot recover from a property insurance policy unless you have “Civil Authority Coverage” in your policy. Review your property insurance policy now with your agent, broker or risk manager. Civil Authority coverage and the language can vary widely from one insurance company’s policy to the next.
  5. Check to see if you have the named perils (i.e. riot) covered in your policy that are likely to cause a civil authority declaration. Generally, civil authority coverage for business interruption does not require actual physical damage to the insured structure. However, it does require that the peril(s) named in the policy be the cause of the loss.
  6. Understand the time limits that apply to this coverage, which can be limited to a certain number of days, or weeks. Also there may be a deductible expressed in terms of days before the coverage kicks in.
  7. Are there location requirements defined in your policy? This may mean only losses to businesses within the immediate boundary of a prohibited area are covered.
  8. Take into consideration that the civil authority may only issue an “advisory” or “voluntary” order. This can possibly result in no coverage because this is short of a “mandatory” order forbidding access to an area. The business community and those that represent them should be discussing this with the local authorities.
  9. Remember -- the actual civil authority order in its written form may govern the recovery of business losses despite your best efforts to insure for this type of event. Prohibited access is probably as close to fulfilling the intent of this coverage; however, other terms such as “restrict” or “impede” may be more problematic. Those of us in the insurance profession well remember President Bush’s statements following 9/11 that the terrorist attacks were in fact an act of war. Had this not been later clarified, insurance coverage would have been denied as acts of war are a common exclusion in property policies. 

Keep in mind that this civil authority issue is not limited to just political protest but also applies to events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fire losses, or other events that inflict damage to large areas where civil authorities must exercise their judgment to protect the life, health, and safety of its citizenry. While not widely discussed or understood, having this insurance protection can make a big difference in the outcome for policyholders and especially businesses.

While Mr. Tutwiler hopes the Republican National Convention will be successful and provide a positive lasting memory to all those who attend, he also hopes the business community will take responsibility to be proactive and prepared. He’s seen too many disasters in his career where people failed to do simple preparation. One component of that preparation is to understand the risk and losses that may flow from the expected demonstrations and protests.

CONTACT:
Tutwiler and Associates
Email:
Phone: (800) 321-4488
For more information, please visit www.PublicAdjuster.com

About Tutwiler and Associates: Tutwiler and Associates is a firm of public adjusters licensed in 10 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands specializing in commercial and residential property loss adjusting. With well in excess of $113 million in client success stories over a 27-year history, the Florida public adjusters work exclusively on behalf of policyholders to help them achieve the maximum settlement amounts they can fairly and honestly recover based on their loss and their policy provisions. Professional help from the adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates can help clients obtain a fair recovery under their policy. The Gulf Coast based public adjuster firm is committed to public service and strives to educate its clients about commercial and residential windstorm and hurricane losses, flood damage, fire, smoke and water damage, collapse, hidden decay and mold losses, sinkholes, loss of stock, and business interruption.