For Allan Panzer, O.D., it wasnt wind or flood damage from Hurricane Ike that disrupted his Houston practice, costing him income; it was the loss of power and the lack of sufficient insurance coverage.

Ike, with winds of 110mph, made landfall along the north end of Galveston Island in the early morning hours of September 13 and moved inland across eastern Texas. The Texas Optometric Association (TOA) is still contacting O.D.s in the state who have been affected by Ike. By early October, the American Optometric Association received 110 applications to its disaster relief fund from O.D.s whose offices and/or homes were damaged by Hurricane Ike.

Although Dr. Panzers office sustained no physical damage, it was among more than 2 million homes and businesses in the Houston area that lost power for two weeks. And, although Dr. Panzer thought he had business interruption insurance, he then learned that his policy excludes coverage for loss of electricity.

Dr. Panzer is not alone. Many of our optometrists are being caught this time by changes in their policys coverage that occurred after Hurricane Rita [in 2005], where the insurance company has specifically excluded wind storm damage (similar to flood damage) and excluded the loss of power from their loss of business coverage, says Brigitte Kelly, the TOAs director of operations and vendor relations. Insurance companies do not necessarily notify you of specific line-by-line changes in your policy each year. They send you the new version and expect you to read it and notice the new exclusions. And if you want those things covered, you must purchase a separate policy to cover them.

Indeed, Dr. Panzer says he learned that he could have purchased a rider for $668 a year to cover loss of electricity but that his agent did not tell him about it. Thats a fraction of the income he lost from not seeing patients for two weeks.

Dr. Panzers experience offers lessons to O.D.s in any disaster. I want people to know and to ask their carriers: Am I covered for the loss of electricity? he says. If not, how much would it cost?

TOA president Brian J. Blount, O.D., whose office was damaged by Hurricane Rita, agrees. I cannot stress enough to read your policies and have a competent attorney look them over also, he says.

Dr. Blount and Ms. Kelly also recommend that you ask if your policy:

Covers flooding or just rain damage and whether you have a specific flood insurance rider.

Has gap insurance to cover your business expenses while you rebuild.

Covers replacement value of equipment and furnishings or only the depreciated book value.

Covers setting up a temporary place of business.

To contribute to Optometrys CharityThe AOA Foundation, go to
To apply for a grant to the Optometric Disaster Relief Fund, go to

Vol. No: 145:10Issue: 10/15/2008