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Zurich Insurance emphasizes storm resilience as 2018 hurricane season begins

Schaumburg, Ill, May 29, 2018

Preparation can help protect communities against the unpredictable nature of Atlantic storms

When it comes to hurricanes, wind gets most of the attention. But it’s usually water—in the form of rainfall, flooding and storm surges—that leaves behind most of the damage.

This was never more evident than in 2017, when three major hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—made landfall in the United States, causing more than billion in global economic losses.

With the 2018 hurricane season set to begin June 1, Zurich North America encourages businesses and individuals to take steps now to protect themselves from the risks of these dangerous and costly storms.

“In 2017, we were again reminded that hurricanes can be unpredictable both in where they strike and also in the amount and type of damage they leave behind,” said Kathleen Savio, CEO of Zurich North America. “The start of the 2018 hurricane season offers the Zurich team another opportunity to share our knowledge on building resilience and to reaffirm our commitment to helping businesses and communities manage storm risks.”

The 2017 hurricane season was almost unprecedented. Hurricane Harvey created a 1,000-year flood event, meaning it was a flood with a 1-in-1,000 chance of occurring in any given year. Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, destroying scores of buildings and knocking out all electrical power on the island. While the strong, sustained winds of a hurricane remain a significant risk, it is often the accompanying rain, flooding and coastal storm surges that will cause the worst damage.

Zurich’s risk engineers and claims professionals witnessed this firsthand while assessing the damage left behind from Harvey, Irma and Maria. The historic flooding in Houston gutted the ground floors and basements of downtown office buildings. In Florida and Puerto Rico, rooftop equipment was torn from their mounts by strong winds, allowing rainwater to seep inside. And many buildings built to sustain hurricane-force winds were betrayed by poorly sealed windows and doors, which failed to stop wind-driven rain from entering.

With the events of 2017 still fresh in our minds, Zurich recommends that businesses develop a hurricane response plan that is simple and actionable and that they practice it well in advance of an imminent hurricane threat.

As we anticipate the arrival of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Zurich offers the following recommendations to businesses:

  • Critical equipment, such as HVAC systems and emergency generators, should not be housed in the basement or ground level of a building, where it can be destroyed by floodwaters.
  • If possible, move important files and computer equipment to safe and dry locations ahead of advancing floodwaters.
  • Make sure that rooftop equipment is adequately mounted and can sustain hurricane-force winds. Additional cables or metal strapping may be required to secure it.
  • Have a professional inspect the doors and windows of your building to ensure they can repel wind-driven rain.

Additional tips on how to prepare for and recover from a hurricane are available online at ZurichNA.com.

About Zurich

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 53,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty, and life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com.

In North America, Zurich is a leading provider of insurance products and services, including workers’ compensation, liability, property, specialty and F&I (finance and insurance) for a number of major industries, such as Construction, Auto Dealers, and Technology. It offers life insurance and disability coverage in the United States. Zurich employs approximately 9,000 people in North America. It’s a top-four commercial insurer in the U.S. and has been insuring U.S. businesses for more than 100 years. Further information is available at www.zurichna.com.