Now that hurricane season is nearing its conclusion, it is important for business owners to look to next year and take proactive steps to protect their businesses before disaster strikes and formulate a plan for how they will recover afterward. Of course, the top priority following a natural disaster is to make sure everyone is safe. However, some additional measures can be taken to get your business back on track as quickly as possible.
Below are five steps businesses should consider when recovering from a hurricane or other natural disaster.
1. Assess the condition of your property
To the extent possible, you should document your business site before a storm is expected to occur. This will allow you to more accurately gauge the damage and better assess the aftermath. Pictures and videos of what the site looked like beforehand will also come in handy to show as proof to your insurance company.
Once a storm hits and all individuals are safely accounted for, it is imperative to assess and document exactly how much damage your business has endured. Take pictures and videos of everything exactly as it was following a disaster. Memories fade over time, so make it a point to have hard documentation on hand to share with your insurance provider. Fortunately, we live in a world dominated by smartphones, so there is no excuse to not take this simple step that can save you significant hassle and money.
2. Clean up and stabilize
Once the damage has been assessed, address any potential threats to the stability of your buildings and structures. Do whatever it takes to ensure your structures or returning employees will not run the risk of additional damage from fallen trees and powerlines or structures on the brink of collapse. With the help of professionals, identify and remove all potential threats so the property is stable before you start rebuilding. Should the building be unsafe for return, arrange for a temporary office space.
3. Set up temporary operating facilities
As soon as you know a hurricane could potentially impact your business, take action. Though it is difficult to foresee the level of damage your business may endure, it is crucial to have a back-up plan ahead of time to ensure you continue to meet customer demand. By proactively coordinating agreements for temporary operating facilities, potential subcontractors and backup information technology providers, your company will receive the highest priority for in-demand resources following a disaster. This will allow you to continue operating while you recover, giving your business a competitive edge against those who did not take this step.
This is the recovery phase. Depending on the extent of damage to your business, this could require anything from minor repairs, to rebuilding to completely starting from scratch. No two situations are the same, so take this time to give your business the attention it requires to get things back up and running smoothly.
5. Make your insurance provider part of the team
It is never too soon to get your insurance company involved when preparing for or recovering from a disaster. In all stages of the recovery process, your insurance company can serve as a trusted partner and resource. This is their line of expertise and they have years of experience helping companies recover from disasters. They can happily provide suggestions that can make the recovery process easier from the beginning.
Additionally, consider purchasing claim preparation coverage. With this coverage, you’ll receive financial assistance to hire a company like CBIZ to field questions and documentation that insurance companies will likely ask for. Most companies are staffed to handle typical day-to-day business functions, and may not have the time and resources to handle the extra load of recovering from a disaster. It helps to have an experienced professional to interface with your insurance company and serve as a sounding board to ensure all requests are both manageable and reasonable.
Whether you are a business owner in a hurricane-prone region like Florida and the Gulf Coast, or located in a landlocked city, you can prepare your business for an unexpected natural disaster by having an emergency plan in place. Rather than waiting until the eleventh hour, consult with risk management experts in advance to set up a disaster plan that provides peace of mind to both you and your employees.
For more information, check out CBIZ’s Corporate Recovery Services page or contact Michael LoGiudice at firstname.lastname@example.org.