When hurricane season is around the corner, the best thing you can do for your business is prepare. Fortunately, hurricanes and tropical storms never come unannounced. There’s usually adequate time for you to craft a mitigation and response plan.
In general, businesses within 50 miles of a shoreline tend to have a greater risk of hurricane-related property damage and loss. But even if your business is more than 50 miles from the coast, it’s still a good idea to take precautions. In 2018, for example, Hurricane Florence traveled more than 100 miles inland and battered Raleigh, North Carolina, with winds of more than 90 MPH.
Here are six ways to prepare your business and employees for a hurricane.
1. Review insurance policies. The best time to figure out your insurance coverage is not in the wake of a major storm. Review your policies now and familiarize yourself with how to file a claim after a disaster.
Most standard property insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for floods and hurricanes. If you think your business may be at risk for storm damage, contact your JAISIN insurance professional and update your policies. Ask about adding hurricane and flood riders to your commercial building policy.
In addition, consider business interruption insurance. Business interruption coverage can replace lost income if you’re forced to shut down because of a covered event.
If you have suppliers that are vulnerable to hurricanes, you may want to purchase contingent business interruption insurance. This can replace lost profits if one of your suppliers is affected by a major storm.
2. Establish a disaster plan and emergency contact list. Create an emergency business response and continuity plan. Your plan should include:
- Varying levels of response based on hurricane impact
- Contact information for employees, suppliers and vendors
- Evacuation routes
- Recovery measures for after the storm passes
3. Inventory your business equipment. Create your inventory using paper, a laptop or tablet, or a smartphone app specially designed for taking a property inventory. Photos and videos (both interior and exterior) can provide useful backup when insurance adjusters are recording your losses.
4. Secure your building or office space. If your building has exterior glass frontage, clear out those sections as much as possible. Cover all windows and doors, or at least those on the first floor, with shutters, plywood or paneling. Brace doorways against floodwaters with sandbags or heavy plastic sheeting and duct tape.
Unplug all electrical equipment, including refrigerators, coffee makers, calculators, fax machines, printers, copy machines, computers, phones, cable TV, etc.
Remove and secure any swinging or portable outdoor signs. Secure all loose objects, such as potted plants and trash cans, that might cause damage (or be damaged) during strong winds.
Check drains, gutters and downspouts to ensure they are clear and able to drain off the heavy rain that usually accompanies a hurricane. Clogged drains could cause roof collapse from the weight of accumulated water. Additionally, interior damage can occur if water on the roof becomes deep enough to cover vent pipes and seep inside the building.
If you have business vehicles, move them into a garage or park them as closely together as possible. Remove all keys and secure in them a separate area.
5. Back up your data off-site. Make sure you have an updated off-site backup of all crucial business-related data. It could be on an external hard drive or kept in cloud storage. This will help preserve valuable data if there’s physical damage to your business.
6. Protect your employees. Your employees are your biggest asset, so give them adequate time to secure their homes and make personal preparations. Encourage them to stock up on necessities and develop a personal emergency plan to protect themselves and their loved ones. Establish a messaging system to provide every employee with important storm-related information.
One of the most important ways to prepare your business for a hurricane is to meet with your JAISIN insurance professional and review your policies. Most losses from hurricanes are due to storm surges and flooding. Ensure you fully understand your coverage and risk exposures.
This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.
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