Is Your Business Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Natural disasters can strike anywhere and at anytime, but many businesses fail to recognize that they are at risk for damaging losses when they occur. Even businesses that don't operate in Tornado Alley or hurricane-prone coastal regions are at risk. For example, the recent flooding in Texas has caught many businesses completely unprepared. That's why every business must develop a disaster plan that will help keep the business running in case the worst does happen. Additionally, business must thoroughly examine their insurance policies to ensure that they are covered for natural disasters.

Developing a Disaster Response Plan
Developing a disaster response plan starts with identifying the events that are most likely to affect a business. Insurance agents can help with this, as they have access to insurance data that isn't available to the general public. However, business owners can also review local newspapers or contact their local emergency management officials for information.

Another important aspect is appointing a person in charge of facilitating communication among staff members. Determine what method of communication will occur and at when it will be initiated. Keeping employees informed, both at work and away from work, is critical to maintaining everyone's safety.

Protecting Business Assets
The next step is to install physical protection methods to reduce the impact of each scenario identified. For example, if flooding is an issue in an area install additional drainage, a retention pond or use waterproofing techniques around the base of the building. Those in tornado-prone areas should have a safe location for employees to wait out the storm. However, they should also install shutters to protect windows and consider upgrading roofing material so that it is wind-resistant.

Update Business Insurance Policies 
It also pays to have an insurance agent review the business's coverage for natural disasters. Some businesses learn that their policy doesn't cover flooding or earthquake damage, and opt to add that coverage as an additional rider. Additionally, ask the agent to describe scenarios where the coverage would not apply. For example, does it cover all flooding, including burst pipes from winter storms as well as flash floods? 

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Further Reading
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