Preparing Your Business for a Natural Disaster

June 6, 2021 · Commercial Lines

Blog Preparing Your Business for a Natural Disaster

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Depending on where you live, you may be threatened by floods, mudslides, tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic activity, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and any number of other potential natural disasters.

Is your business prepared in the event one of these natural disasters strikes your area?

2020 Natural Disaster Impact

  • 416 natural catastrophe events globally
  • $268 billion in losses globally
  • Costliest year on record for global severe connective storms
  • 12 named storm landfalls, including six hurricanes, in the U.S. mainland

Questions to Consider

Often, the challenge of running a business makes it difficult to think of almost anything else. You have so many other things to worry about, do you really have time to plan for a natural disaster —something that might not even happen? However, if you want your business—including you and your employees—to make it safely through and still have a business to run afterwards, take time to prepare now. Here are a few questions you should consider as you're making natural disaster plans for your business:

  • What disasters and emergencies are you likely to experience in your area?
  • What materials and supplies will you need to have on hand to ensure you and your employees can be safe and protected during a disaster?
  • How will you and your employees communicate with family members at work, school, and home? Do families have a plan that will allow them to be reunited after a disaster or emergency?
  • What preparations will need to be made to protect your business' assets, data, inventory, and physical facilities?
  • How will you and your employees contribute to efforts at cleanup and/or recovery after a disaster occurs?
  • Do you have appropriate contingencies, including offsite data backups and business insurance, to allow you to ÒrebootÓ your business in the aftermath of a disaster?
Learn More! Updating Your Family Emergency Plan and Developing Emergency Plans

Do You Have the Right Insurance?

The insurance question is a big one. As you're considering the risks of possible disasters in your area, you'll want to consider whether your current insurance policies will help your business recover. After Superstorm Sandy, many business owners were shocked to find their policies covered damage from wind and hail but not from flooding. Similarly, many business owners in the Katrina flood zone were surprised to find their commercial auto policies didn't cover flood damage to their company vehicles. While casualty insurance may pay for damage to property, equipment, and inventory, it won't help account for the lost income that business interruption insurance would help cover.

What is business interruption insurance and how does it work? Click here to learn more.

Preparing for Emergencies and Natural Disasters

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a business toolkit to help businesses become better prepared for an emergency or natural disaster. The Ready Business Toolkit series includes hazard-specific versions for earthquake, hurricane, inland flooding, power outage, and severe wind/tornado. These toolkits offer business owners a step-by-step guide to build preparedness within an organization. The information is both helpful and free. As you assess your risks and make your plans, you might also consider having one or more of your employees train as a volunteer in FEMA's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Having someone trained in the CERT program means you'll have someone in house with training in fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Your CERT-trained employee(s) can help advise you about your disaster plans and can also serve as a liaison with first responders and other emergency preparedness groups in your area. With so many resources available, it's very doable for business owners to effectively plan for natural disasters and other calamities. By starting with some basic questions and working through the Ready Business Toolkit series, you will be able to come up with some ideas that will help protect you and your employees and ensure your business can recover no matter what catastrophes occur.