Getting your business ready for a hurricane involves much more than just stocking up on bottled water and supplies. Every business should have a written disaster recovery plan in place that includes knowing how to assess damage, detailing how to file an insurance claim, and perform the necessary repairs to get back to work as quickly as possible. Taking the wrong approach, or simply mishandling your potential insurance claim, could cost your business thousands of dollars.
In an effort to aid your hurricane season preparation, here are some suggestions that could assist you in preparing your disaster recovery plan.
• Make sure to safely store your pertinent documents. For instance, make sure you have a copy of your insurance policy as well as a contact list of all of the key members of your organization. You should maintain hard copies of these documents in the event of a long-term power outage, but you should also store these documents digitally in an off-site and electronically safe environment for easy access when power and internet service is restored. You should also safely store these documents in a manner that will allow you to gain quick access to them in the event of an extended power and/or internet outages.
• You should safely make arrangements to have copies of your last four years of income tax returns, and the last six months of your profit and loss statements safely secured. You’ll need that financial data in the event that you have to make a business interruption claim, and you will need physical copies of these documents should you be unable to gain access to them electronically.
• Keep an updated account of your inventory, and print that out as well. Be sure to inventory all of your office supplies such as computers, desks, chairs, and even paper since you should be able to recover those losses. You should photograph and/or video your entire workspace, including your inventory and office supplies.
• If you rent space, then it is imperative that you keep a copy of your lease agreement.
• Communication is vital to any recovery. You should anticipate disruptions in communications services for an extended period of time. Make sure you have a plan for proper communication. You should therefore collect emergency contact information for all of your employees, suppliers, and vendors. Don’t just collect this information, but routinely perform spot checks to ensure that you have the most current information for these individuals.
• Work with your senior staff to prepare a plan for a storm, fire, flood or other emergency. What are the contingencies that will allow you to get back to work quickly, and what are the variables that will prompt a long term shut down. Who will be in charge of getting your network back up? Who will be in charge of contacting your major clients? Who will be in charge of handling your insurance claim? Assigning these responsibilities in a calm environment prior to a storm striking will help you with the transition to get back to work after a storm strikes.
• If you own the property, hire a licensed inspector or contractor to examine the roof, interior and other structural components in advance to the store. You do not want the insurance company to deny your claim by stating that your property had pre-existing damage. The best way to combat that argument is to conduct the appropriate inspection today.
• Prepare a list of preferred contractors that you can call on for all necessary repairs. Don’t wait for the insurance company to find someone. If the storm was a catastrophe, then that aid will be difficult to come by. Indeed, it will be incumbent upon you to mitigate your damages, and the best way to do that is to contact a contractor today and make arrangements to ensure prompt repairs after a storm strikes.
You should take the necessary steps to safeguard your property and business now. Hurricanes are a fact of life living in South Florida. Although inevitable, they are not surprises like earthquakes or tsunamis. You do have time to prepare and to be ready for a hurricane.
Please contact me to today to receive our comprehensive checklist and Hurricane Recovery & Disaster Preparedness Guide to help you and your business prepare for hurricane season.