InsightsHurricanes Are Hitting the U.S. Hard in 2020: Are Your Properties Safe?

On track to being the most active on record, this year’s hurricane season demands even greater diligence in protecting your portfolio.

Batten down the hatches. 2020 is shaping up to be a year like no other on record when it comes to storm activity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center issued an update to its 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook in early August that places the number of named storms at potentially double the average of previous years. Where the typical six-month season (June 1 to November 30) would see 12 named storms, 2020 is on pace for as many as 25. And while these storms have in the past resulted in six total and three major (Category 3, 4 or 5) hurricanes, NOAA expects up to 11 total, with as many as six developing into major hurricanes.

It’s definitely a year to keep a close watch on your properties, which means assessing the services and processes you have in place for disaster response.

“If this year’s season continues to play out at its current pace, servicers that are working with national property preservation providers, will be glad they made that choice rather than working with multiple regional providers.” says Anthony Scotese, Assistant Vice President, Operations, in ServiceLink’s Field Services division. “Hurricanes can hit anywhere from Florida up through the Eastern Seaboard and across to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Having a property preservation partner that can aggregate the damage information and target impacted areas across geographies enables a much more efficient response.”

Samantha Saggio, Vice President, Field Services Vendor Management, explains ServiceLink’s approach to reporting and inspections: “We monitor extreme weather situations and compile FEMA data and declarations so we can pull a list of assets within the affected counties. We then issue customized reports designed to help our servicer partners see which of their properties may need to be inspected.”

Once inspections have been completed, the servicer can determine which of their default and vacant properties require hazard claims. They can also use inspection results as the basis for outreach to impacted homeowners within their current, non-delinquent portfolios. “Some servicers take this opportunity to initiate discussions with borrowers on their options in case they need assistance with their payments or an exception of any kind.” Saggio says.

“Proactive and comprehensive communications from the property preservation company are essential to helping servicers and their borrowers protect their assets and get the insurance quotes they need,” says Scotese. “We offer servicers the peace of mind of having one source that helps them understand the impacts of the hurricane on their portfolio from a default — and non-default—perspective. They can find out which of their borrowers were and were not impacted, determine where disaster claims need to be filed and then help their borrowers file those claims, since the broad scope and traumatic nature of hurricanes can make it difficult for them to figure out what to do. We help our clients take their own proactive approach in managing that borrower experience.”

Where repairs for roof damage, flooding, electrical and plumbing issues etc., are needed, ServiceLink can provide bids to get the work done, and oversee and provide progress reports on the repairs. “Addressing damages quickly after discovery can help prevent them from getting worse,” Saggio says, adding that, “ServiceLink also keeps its clients informed of any circumstances obstructing access to areas, thus causing delays in work performance or the ability of homeowners to return to their property.”

“Property preservation providers play an integral role with servicers.” Scotese concludes. “I can tell you we are ready, willing, and able to assist our clients in managing disaster response at any level desired. There is absolutely no reason a servicer needs to panic when a storm hits — even in a dangerous hurricane season like this one. If they have the right partner, they can be assured of prompt, reliable support.”

For more information about ServiceLink Field Services, visit svclnk.com/servicers.

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