Before the first reporter pleas for viewers to “hunker down,” businesses need to be ready to protect their property and personnel in the event of a hurricane. For businesses, storm prep is more involved than boarding up windows and buying flashlight batteries. A thorough review of insurance coverage is necessary to help businesses recover from storm damage and minimize down time.
A common mistake many make in coastal areas is to forego flood insurance. But if a business or property sustains flood damage, even if it is related to a hurricane or named storm, the flood damage will likely not be covered by the property coverage.
Also, many policies in coastal areas have a hurricane, or named storm, deductible which is applied separately and is typically higher than the standard deductible. Business owners should set aside extra funds to cover this higher deductible as well as other emergency supplies.
Insurance coverage is just one part of a comprehensive plan to ensure a business can weather a storm with minimal interruption or costs. Advanced preparation is key along with open lines of communication and good old-fashioned tarps.
Get a Plan
The best offense is a good defense. Well before the first storm starts brewing, make a comprehensive business emergency plan to ensure the physical and financial security of the business. While each plan varies greatly depending on the type of business, a few basic points are of central focus when facing a natural disaster such as a hurricane:
- How will sensitive data and records be stored and managed?
- How will equipment and supplies be secured?
- What is the external and internal communication plan?
- What are operating procedures with limited resources such as electricity, water, phones, and internet?
- What’s the backup plan for data, equipment, and personnel?
- Are insurance coverages in place to protect against potential losses?
People are a company’s most valuable resource, and keeping in contact during a crisis can help the business run smoothly while alleviating some fear among team members
Internal Communication: Make a contact list for all employees, and encourage them to provide alternate numbers in case their primary number is not in operation. If an employee plans to stay with mom during a storm, add mom’s number to the list.
External Communication: Depending on the business, a list of vendors, suppliers, customers, and clients could be beneficial if the business is temporarily closed due to a storm. As soon as you have internet connectivity, harness the power of social media to communicate hours of operation and other storm-related business information.
Buildings and Physical Location: Purchase supplies to secure windows and doors well before a storm approaches. Nobody wants to be caught in the madness of the hardware store the day before landfall.
Equipment: Make arrangements to relocate equipment to a more secure location before a storm hits. If equipment cannot be moved, unplug it, raise it off the ground to help protect from water damage, and cover with heavy plastic.
Data and Documents: Equipment can be replaced, but electronic files and sensitive hard copies of files need special protection. Back up data and move to an off-site location
There’s no one standard list of hurricane preparation that will work for every business or location, but starting early can make things a little easier until the skies clear.
Originally appeared in Atlantic Specialty Lines. Used by permission.