After the Storm – a Travelers Claim Story
When Hurricane Ian made landfall last September it devastated a large swathe of Florida’s coastline – including Sanibel Island, a small vacation spot about an hour from Fort Myers.
Residents and businesses across Sanibel’s 16 square miles were now in need of help. One such business, a grocery chain that provided essential supplies to Sanibel’s residents and workers, was one of those businesses.
Luckily for the owners of this grocery store, Travelers Claim professionals Kevin L. and Scott C. were already on the case.
The grocery store’s corporate office asked the Travelers team to join their mitigation company in assessing the damage to the store, along with getting any repairs started as quickly as possible.
Kevin and Scott flew down to Florida and started to plan. First hurdle? Getting onto Sanibel Island.
“The causeway had washed away – it was washed away,” Scott said. “The only way onto the island was by hitching a ride with the local fishermen, who you could charter to bring you over.”
Local consultants advised Scott and Kevin to postpone their inspection until the causeway was repaired – in other words, simply sit and wait.
Time was working against Sanibel though. “We knew we couldn’t wait,” Kevin said. “The only other food provider on the island had already been deemed a ‘complete loss.’ This grocery store was essential to providing supplies and food to repair crews and emergency workers.”
Kevin and Scott finally secured a charter, and they were on their way.
The grocery store manager and representatives from the store’s mitigation company were waiting for Kevin and Scott by the docks.
“It was too far to walk to the grocery store, and the streets were impassable for cars because of the storm,” Scott said. “So, they gave us bikes. But there were only 3 bikes, not enough for everyone there plus Kevin and I.”
“They did say there was one tandem bike in the back we could use though,” Kevin said. “Nobody had used it in a while, so we had to inflate the tires.”
Kevin and Scott said they trekked out on their tandem bike together (Scott in front and Kevin in back). As they rode along, they saw the damage that had wrecked the island.
“The devastation was vast. One part of the street was completely washed out,” Kevin said. “There was a lot of debris – debris everywhere, and 3 or 4 feet of flooding.”
Despite this hardship, Kevin said he was moved by the support from the local community. “Eventually we had to swap out the tandem bike for another one. Luckily, residents were leaving bikes out at the edge of their property. They had signs on them that said, ‘Please use and return.’ Seeing that level of support was really amazing.”
Once they arrived at the insured’s location, they immediately got to work.
“Everybody was on the same page,” Scott said. “We identified areas of damage and did an in-depth analysis while the mitigation teams began disposing of trash and drying the inside of the store, essentially salvaging what could be saved.”
At the end of the day, Scott and Kevin were able to get in contact with the grocery store owners and answer their questions. The rebuilding process could begin.
“Other business owners told us later that they hadn’t heard from their insurance companies for months,” Kevin said. “Being on site, putting ourselves out there, we weren’t going to wait for the causeway to be rebuilt. We’re going to do what we’re going to do. We biked alongside our customers and built a connection. We put our feet in the same shoes. I think it built trust that led to a quicker resolution.”
“The owners really wanted to open back up and be the light for the rest of the community,” Kevin said. “They wanted to be there for everyone else—just like the residents who left their bikes out.”
“It takes a village,” Scott noted.
And that village is doing its part to uphold the Travelers Promise, taking care of our customers, communities and each other.
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