What is “Plan B?” The New Normal in a Post-Irma World

By a Fellow FDA Member

Call it intuition, but I had the feeling we —and the entire east coast of Florida — dodged a bullet last year with Hurricane Matthew. It just seemed like a matter of time before our 13-year dry spell was going to end.

I desperately wanted to be wrong, as I watched CNN every evening for the latest update on Hurricane Irma, and the National Hurricane Center for the more elaborate interpretation.

The memories of spending another post-Labor Day weekend away from home (Hurricane Frances, 2004) sadly is still too vivid in our memories. I worked as a dentist a total of four days that month, and two of those were without air conditioning — which is a testament to the determination of my staff and my patients to create a sense of “normalcy” in the aftermath, despite the obvious disruption to our personal lives.

Doctors, it is time for “Plan B.”

Depending on where you are in your practice career, it may not make economic sense to “build over” before or after your insurance adjuster has given you the final assessment. For dentists with more than 25 years of practice, the return on investment may not be in your favor at such a late period, as the current tax laws for business owners after 50 provide decent “catch-up” provisions in a defined benefit (like a government pension) and defined contribution (401K-type) plans that would be more beneficial.

For a mid-career solo practitioner, you have been faced with rising overhead costs since 2007, and along with diminished income (ADA Health Policy Institute has the data), the time is ripe for a multi-doctor practice formation, which should always be created with expert legal and financial advice.

Look “around the neighborhood” and reach out to other dentists who may share the same dilemma you do. If you have damage to your office, and someone nearby does not, now would be the time to construct a well-defined contract that outlines the term and time limit for this new arrangement. And if the relationship works on a limited basis, you may find the new arrangement something you want to solidify.

Likewise, if your office came out unscathed, reach out to your colleagues in this period and strategize. This is not a DIY project, so retain the professional advice you need to make this happen. Involve your bankers and financial advisors for expert advice.

In closing, I want you to know that I understand what you have gone through, and I look at 2004 as a defining year in my professional career. The decisions I made after these disasters guided me to where I am today, and my family is better for it.

Make the right choice for your loved ones and your staff members, and don’t be afraid to execute “Plan B!”

 

 

Post-Irma Disaster Recovery Resources

Last week, the Florida Dental Association Foundation teamed up with the American Dental Association Foundation to prepare and assist FDA member dentists in need. Below is information we provided members last week, but want to share with you again, as we know that those who might be in need may forget these resources. If you know of fellow members who need assistance, please share this information.

The ADA Foundation offers support that may be helpful to dentists affected by the storm. This includes:

  • ADA Foundation emergency grants
    • Emergency Disaster Grants — Any dentist who is a victim of a disaster may apply to the ADA Foundation for a grant up to $2,000 to help cover the costs of their personal emergency needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. (ADA membership is not required.)
    • Emergency Disaster Grants for 501(c)(3) organizations providing dental care following a disaster — Grants of up to $10,000 are available for this purpose.

More information can be found at ADA and ADAF Disaster Support.

Please click here to access the ADA/FDA relief application. ADA Foundation grants are up to $2,000 and FDA Foundation grants are up to $1,500. This information also can be found on the FDA website at floridadental.org.

Additional information/resources from Volunteer Florida Emergency Management can be found here.

Please know the FDA, its officers and trustees are here for you, and haven’t stopped working to make sure members’ needs are first.

 

Create Your Hurricane Crisis Plan Now!

By Carrie Millar, MBA, CAE, FDA Services Agency Manager

Life in sunny Florida can have many benefits; relatively warm weather year-round and access to beautiful beaches are just two upsides of living and practicing in this state. However, there also are some downsides, the worst being hurricanes. These destructive, swirling storms come barreling toward the peninsula almost every year and, although storms can vary in intensity, they always bring some sort of damage with them.

Is your practice prepared to handle the chaos that comes after a big storm? In a state where hurricanes are a normal part of life, it’s vital to have a hurricane/crisis plan ready for your practice in the event of an emergency. Not every plan is the same, but there are several hallmarks of an ideal strategy to keep in mind while crafting your readiness plan.

Decide when your practice will close and reopen.
Will your closing coincide with county schools and/or other government entities? Have a policy in place and be sure that both your employees and patients are aware of that policy.

Notify patients and staff if you need to close/reopen.
Keep updated emergency contact lists and create a notification system that can be used in any emergency scenario.

Make sure your practice can afford a couple days of closure.
Keep an emergency fund to help your practice survive in case you need to be closed for several days after a storm hits. Business income insurance and off-premises power failure coverage also will help with the costs, but they often have a 72-hour waiting period.

Protect your data!
Back up your practice’s data regularly and keep important documents in a weatherproof safe. Also, keep copies of important records, such as employee, vendor and client contact information, collected and backed up at a secure off-site location.

Update your inventory list.
Make sure you have an updated list of all the major assets in your practice, or even better, take a video of all the items. This is a great way to make sure you can account for all items in the event of a loss.

Make sure you’re covered!
Communicate annually with your insurance agent to review your coverage details. Ask about any additional coverage that may be right for your practice. Being prepared can make a difference.

Key Coverages to Have for Hurricane Season

1. Wind/Hail Coverage: Make sure that your policy has coverage for physical damage caused from wind; often there is a separate deductible for this coverage.

2. Business Income and Extra Expense: This coverage pays for your practice’s missed income when there is physical damage to your building. It also pays for temporary office space in the event of a larger damage amount.

3. Off-premises Power/Utility Services: In the event that you do not have any physical damage, you may still have to close your practice because of interruption of communication, power or water services. This coverage will help recoup some of that lost income.

4. Flood Insurance: We recommend that all business owners consider purchasing this coverage to have complete coverage for any water damage. While wind driven rain is covered by wind insurance, rising water is not.

Make sure to read the new hurricane insurance guide developed by FDA Services for the 2016 hurricane season, “Hurricane Proof: 2016 Practice Readiness Guide.”

This article was prepared by FDA Services. FDA Services’ experienced staff is ready to get to work for you. If you feel you need a review of your current insurance policies, call us at 800.877.7597 or email insurance@fdaservices.com.