Protecting Your Business from Natural Disasters

Last month’s bomb cyclone storm was a doozy, coming in fast and furious, shutting down businesses, the airport and schools all over the metro area, sidelining cars, and leaving a bunch of snow in its wake. While snow storms like these can be a logistical nightmare, they also serve as a reminder that natural disasters can wreak on your business – big or small. And, while some places are more likely to experience disasters than others, you’re never completely free from the threat of one occurring.

Property that succumbs to damage due to a storm can be repaired or rebuilt. But a natural disaster can sideline a small business for days, weeks, or worse. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, more than one in four businesses hit by a disaster never reopen. Small businesses are at a greater risk, since most only have a single location.

That’s why it is important to protect your business by identifying the risks you face from a natural disaster and to create a disaster action plan to help ensure your business is back up and operational as soon as possible.

Here’s how:

First, inspect your property and complete any necessary maintenance to ensure it’s in the best possible condition to withstand potential disasters. To ensure the safety of you and your staff, post evacuation routes throughout the building and be sure to properly educate your team on emergency protocols and procedures. Be prepared with survival kit at your business that includes a flashlight, water, batteries, duct tape and scissors.

Additionally, you may want to consider investing in a backup generator. Even if your property does not suffer damage, you can still lose power, which can be a big threat to a business especially for retail businesses or medical providers that need to reopen their doors quickly, or if goods or assets would be damaged, cannot operate or will spoil without power. Test the system occasionally, and establish contacts for emergency diesel supplies to keep your generator fueled up.

Do you have the right insurance coverage?

Insurance is a must for protecting any business. If you are unsure of the details, be sure to contact your broker and review your policy for the type of coverage you carry on your building and physical assets. Make sure it covers the type of damage you may encounter from a disaster, such as wind or water, and is enough coverage to return your business to operation. You may also want to consider business interruption insurance, which will cover lost income due to a forced shut down following a disaster. This can be critical to the survival of your business after you reopen. Develop a system for how you’ll communicate, as well as procedures for work processes and payroll.

Back up your data

So much of a business’s vital information, including employee data, financial records, customer files and inventory, is located on computer servers and storage. All of this information can disappear quickly if not properly backed up. Electronic data should be regularly backed up, with physical copies kept at an offsite location.

Finally, designate a trusted team member to relay information to staff on post-disaster procedures. Make training exercises a priority to be conducted on a regular basis, covering emergency preparedness and contingency and response plans.

Being prepared with the right tools and procedures can play a critical role in ensuring the continued operation and success of your company following a natural disaster. For more information on how Roper Insurance can help further protect your business from natural disaster disruptions with utility and business interruption insurance, give us a call at 303-721-1145.