Waves of Recovery: Hurricane Katrina and Rita's Effect on the Fitness Industry


Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro Launches Blog to Help Hurricane Victims Find Jobs

Many fitness facilities in the coastal South have been damaged or destroyed completely by Hurricane Katrina leaving many fitness professionals unemployed and displaced. After many requests, Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro has set up a blog for those affected and those facilities looking to help. If you have an open position at your facility that you'd like filled by an evacuee, please visit our blog.

Fitness Facilities' Hurricane Relief Efforts

Numerous fitness facilities across the country are raising money and donating supplies to those affected by Katrina. Here’s a sample of what some are doing.

Update: Fitness Facilities Continue to Survey Damage

COASTAL SOUTH—In the past month and a half, fitness facilities in the coastal South have taken a beating – literally. While Katrina proved to be the bigger of the two storms, Rita still packed a powerful punch. Here’s an updated look at how some fitness facilities in the affected area faired, and how others are realizing just how important their health club is to their community.

Steps to Take Following a Disaster

1. Notify all of your insurance carriers.
Even if you think a policy won’t provide coverage for the disaster, let all carriers know you were affected by the disaster. If you can’t get through by phone, send a letter.

2. Do it quickly.
The earlier you make your claim the better off you are.

3. Document everything.
Take photos or videotape footage before and after the storm. Also, document all telephone conversations you have with your insurance company with a follow-up e-mail stating the purpose of your call. Photocopy all letters and information and document your loss of profit and loss of inventory.

4. Get an extension.
Many companies have short timelines for filing claims (30-60 days for some), so if your claim is still unresolved, get the insurance company to commit to a deadline extension in writing.

5. Make sure it’s an advance.
If you are offered an advance from your insurance company, make sure it’s an actual advance and not a final payment.

6. Apply, apply, apply.
Numerous government grants are available. Appoint someone on staff to find out what you’re eligible for and send in your application. A good place to start is the United States Small Business Administration at www.sba.gov/.

7. Contact your bank and vendors.
The most important thing for small businesses is cash flow. Make sure your suppliers and bank are aware of your damages, and they may cut you a break.

Tips If You Don’t Have Flood Insurance

Many fitness facilities don’t have flood insurance, but depending on the circumstances, some flooding could be covered, according to Stacy Andreas, a partner in Lathrop and Gage’s Kansas City, MO, office who practices in the area of insurance coverage law.

In some cases, part of flooding damage may be covered by insurance, but legally the issue can get complicated, she said. Most business owner policies cover wind or wind-driven rain damage, meaning that clubs can get some coverage if part of the damage is caused by wind, even if flooding exacerbates the problem later. Some facilities may be able to argue that under the basic business policy because there was a hurricane and wind damage, flooding was more incidental to the hurricane.

She cautioned though that determining direct cause of loss versus indirect was tricky, and different jurisdictions could have different precedents.

Andreas also stressed that many may be able to tap into their business interruption coverage not from specific damage, but from civil authority coverage. If a business was forced to evacuate due to the hurricane, it may have insurance coverage. Although civil authority coverage is in most policies, it usually has a time limit that depends on how long the evacuation lasts, and most policies vary according to the details.

How You Can Help

American Red Cross

Habitat for Humanity

Humane Society of the United States

Project Hope

Salvation Army

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