Study shows agent, commercial client differing views on severe weather readiness
Ohio Pen/10242651

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 7, 2023 ~ As weather events become increasingly frequent and severe, commercial insurance customers are growing increasingly concerned about the potential damage to their businesses and properties. According to data, 40% of businesses fail to reopen following a disaster.

Nationwide's latest Agency Forward study has revealed that many of these customers may not have adequate coverage to protect their businesses from climate risks. Mark Berven, President and COO of Nationwide's Property & Casualty organization, commented on the findings: "Weather risks continue to evolve, and as such, adaptation and resilience must become integral parts of a business's planning and decision-making processes. It's incumbent upon us in the insurance industry to ensure our clients are fully informed about weather-related business risks and how they can best protect against them."

The survey polled "commercial property stakeholders" – defined as commercial property owners, new construction builders and business owners – to gauge their concern and preparation levels around severe weather events that have or could impact their operations. The results showed that 62% of stakeholders were either very or extremely concerned about severe weather. In addition, more than one-third (36%) had experienced damage from a natural disaster in the past five years, primarily driven by hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. In hurricane-prone states, roughly 6 in 10 (59%) had experienced property damage in the same time period.

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Recovery from these disasters can take months and cost thousands of dollars; 4 in 10 reported recovery taking one to three months while half said it took four to six months. For 83%, the cost of their recovery was $10,000 or more with 49% reporting costs between $20,000 and $50,000.

Despite this concern however, two-thirds (67%) reported feeling prepared for severe weather events with most having a plan in place for preventing property damage as well as knowing what to do in an emergency situation. Most also reported working with an agent for appropriate coverage for severe weather events; however 52% of agents believed that less than half of their clients had an appropriate level of coverage for climate risks they face.

Berven commented on this discrepancy: "While it's encouraging to see many property stakeholders feel prepared for severe weather events, our research indicates there's a discrepancy between their perceived readiness and the reality of their coverage." He went on to emphasize the need for agents to review clients' policies thoroughly and verify they're properly insured to value.

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The survey also found that 8 out 10 agents regularly help clients with topics such as preventing wind (76%), roof (69%) and water (61%) damage; however fewer than half (42%) promote property-protection resources even though clients want them. Berven concluded by saying: "Business owners have a long list of priorities as they keep their operations going so it's important for their agent to be prepared to talk about the weather risks that could impact their locations throughout the year."

It is clear from Nationwide's survey that commercial property stakeholders need more support when it comes understanding climate vulnerabilities so they can adequately protect themselves against potential losses due to natural disasters or other extreme weather events.
Filed Under: Business

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