In the aftermath of "Superstorm" Sandy, the hurricane-turned-nor'easter that killed at least 121 people in the United States in late October, broker Susan Combs spent 96 hours without power to her New York City home or two Manhattan office locations. The owner of employee benefit brokerage Combs & Company, a partner firm of insurance services firm ARM-Capacity of New York, LLC, has offices on 29th Street and in Battery Park in Manhattan. EBA spoke with Combs nine days after the storm, at which time she was still unable to enter her Battery Park office.
Having over-prepared for Hurricane Irene in 2011, Combs believes "a lot of people were a little bit complacent" this time around - herself included. She recalls filling her bathtub with water for Irene, but made no such preparations for Sandy.
However, ARM-Capacity, headquartered in Mahwah, N.J., did email its property and casualty client base before the storm hit with a list of the 800 numbers for every carrier the company works with. "Everybody's dealing with their own personal tragedies but then you're dealing with clients who are also calling in for claims," says Combs, whose business partner lost everything he owned in his Long Island home.
With so many clients without power, email traffic usually in the hundreds per day dropped to as few as 20 emails in the days following Sandy, says Combs. Calls that came in from clients - Combs worked from her husband's office at 55th Street and 6th Avenue after the power went out - were mostly from her food industry clients calling about spoilage coverage. Many lost at least $5,000 to $10,000 worth of food in their refrigerators. Other calls came from retail businesses that rely on foot traffic inquiring about business interruption coverage.
To help with the recovery, Combs volunteered to help out personally on hard-hit Staten Island, and also moved up her company's annual holiday charitable donation to provide much-needed relief to the local Red Cross.
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