November 19, 2012

Business lessons drift in Sandy’s wake

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Cole Brown III, Vice President of Loss Control at CBIZ Insurance Services. Cole can be reached at cbrown@cbiz.com.

I have been a volunteer in the emergency services sector with various organizations for more than 25 years as a volunteer fire fighter and a volunteer search and rescue expert. I currently serve as a volunteer search management expert for the Maryland State Police Special Operation Section, I am a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and I am active as a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). I offer this information to share my experiences with you, the reader, as I have seen the effects of the destruction that natural and man-made disasters (large and small) create, which cause businesses to fail to fully recover.
Disasters -- those that are man-made and those that are due to the power of weather -- can cripple a family, a business, and a complete town in minutes or hours. Cities that never expected to deal with natural disasters -- from Biltmore Shores, a small community in Massapequa, NY, to those that expect them often like San Francisco -- all must consider themselves vulnerable to the unexpected power that Mother Nature can unleash whenever she likes.  

While the wrath of a natural disaster is impossible to avoid, it is possible to be properly prepared for the effects and situations that will follow. Business owners responsible for the employment of their employees as well as their own livelihood should ask themselves if they have done all they can to prepare. Today, not tomorrow.

Our division of Loss Control at CBIZ Insurance Services has developed eight questions to consider before disaster strikes your business:
  • Has your business conducted a vulnerability assessment?
  • Is there a business continuity plan in place? 
  • Have you developed a plan to address your higher vulnerabilities? (i.e. power outage for a week)
  • Do you know how to properly settle a claim at a fair amount? 
  • What are the professional fees that may be covered by your insurance policy?
  • How do you obtain lost profits settlements? 
  • Are you familiar with the appropriate calculations and forms required to submit a claim?
  • Do you know how to value assets subsequent to a loss and provide proof of loss documentation? 
  • Can your business quickly comply with the insurance company’s requests following a major catastrophe?
Recovering from a disaster puts serious demands on your time. It is essential that business owners of any size comply with insurance company requests for documentation and calculations. Not doing your research can lead to a misunderstanding of what is covered and what is not. Buying business insurance without the help of an expert is a gamble. Whether you buy plan A or plan B, you are placing a bet that you are making the right choice for whatever is coming in the future that none of us can see. CBIZ is here to help, or at the very least, educate you on your situation.

The Loss Control at CBIZ Insurance Services provides risk assessment evaluations and risk improvement services to assist our clients in the reduction of the total cost of risk (TCOR) by evaluating the services provided by the various insurance carriers, coordinating carrier loss control service, and at times, conducting hands-on training, inspections, emergency drills, and audits.

For more information on how to prepare for unexpected disasters, I encourage you to take a moment to check out the post from my colleague, Mark Madar, which delves into the importance of business continuity planning and how to institute a business continuity plan.

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