How Your Business Can Survive a Hurricane
September 17, 2018
A hurricane can grind a business's operations to a halt, possibly for a long period of time. But if weather forecasts warn that a hurricane is approaching, there are steps you can take to prepare and recover.
These measures can help minimize losses, soften the financial impact, and enable operations to resume quickly.
- Make sure employees are safe. If a hurricane is imminent, workers belong with their
families, either at home or evacuated to a safe location. Showing genuine concern for employee safety
is the right thing to do, promotes good workplace morale, and helps ensure that your workforce will be
available when you resume operations.
Collect employees' cell phone numbers and personal e-mail addresses so you can keep each other informed.
- Know your insurance coverage. The business may need to make claims against its property and auto insurance after a hurricane. It is important to review policies to make sure the business has bought enough coverage to replace buildings, furniture and equipment. Increases should be requested, if necessary. Be aware that flood insurance policies typically have a 30-day waiting period before they provide coverage, so this coverage will not help if it is purchased the day before a hurricane arrives. Keep contact information for insurance agents and companies handy in case you have to submit claims.
- Protect property and vehicles. To the extent feasible, cover windows and move vulnerable property and vehicles to safe locations. Back up electronic data and ensure that the copies are stored offsite in servers far from the hurricane zone. Unplug electronic equipment if possible to avoid damaging power surges. Test emergency backup power generators to protect temperature-sensitive stock such as food and medicine. Keep emergency first responder phone numbers handy.
- Monitor the storm's progress. The media will cover the storm non-stop, so stay informed. Do not attempt to travel to the business location until local authorities announce that it is safe to do so.
- Protect property from further damage after the storm. If safe to do so, cover broken windows and damaged roofs; pump out standing water; use fans to start drying out water-damaged flooring; remove perishable stock to alternate locations; and protect or move electronic equipment. Many business property insurance policies will pay to offset some of the cost of protective measures.
- Communicate with employees. It is important that they know about when work will resume.
- Contact insurance providers immediately to report damage. Cooperate with them fully during the claim process.
- Document losses. Take photos or videos of the damage. If available, use drones to record videos of roof damage. Create written descriptions of damaged property. Gather receipts and other documents to establish the age and replacement cost of property. Collect information to support business-income insurance claims, including past and projected sales records, payroll records, invoices for necessary continuing services such as fuel supplies, and business expense records. Obtain repair estimates on damaged vehicles.
Hurricanes are devastating events for businesses. Around 75% of organizations that lack a continuity plan will fail within three years of a natural disaster. But it does not have to be that way. With advance planning and thoughtful action afterward, a business can survive a hurricane.
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