Living along the East Coast forces a person to get somewhat comfortable living in the path of Hurricane Alley. Tropical Storm Barry is currently approaching the Gulf Coast. Over this coming weekend, New Orleans is preparing for between 6 to 12 inches of rain over a 72 hour period. As a result of living in a location where hurricanes are a real threat each year, it is important to prepare your family and business for a natural disaster many months in advance. In the eastern and southern states, hurricane season stretches from roughly the first of June through the middle of October. The bulk of the named storms occur during August and September. Although it is rare, some Western States including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington can see some threat of a hurricane.
Just in 2018, Hurricanes Florence and Michael killed nearly 100 people and caused $50 billion in damage. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40 percent of small businesses close for good after facing a natural disaster. In addition, another 25 percent of small businesses close within a year after experiencing a natural disaster. A big reason why small businesses are impacted so severely is because most small businesses occupy only one location. If that location is destroyed, business is stopped permanently until a new location can be found or rebuilt. Medium and Large Sized Business typically have the benefit of multiple locations. If one location is left operational, the business can stay up and running out of that location until accommodations can be made on the damaged location.
Because of the severe damage that can be caused to a small business, the first thing a small business owner should do to protect the business from the ramifications of a hurricane is to secure adequate flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is offered to homeowners, renters and small business owners if their community participates in NFIP. The average flood insurance policy costs less than about $1,000 a year depending on the size and type of property.
Ways to Prepare your Business for a Hurricane
Partner with an Independent Insurance agent
The best way to make sure you have the proper coverage, enough coverage, and there are no gaps in coverage is to partner with an independent insurance agent like The Insurance Shop LLC. An independent insurance agent is the best agent to partner with because they are not attached to any one carrier. Not being attached to one carrier allows an independent agent to give unfettered advice about each policy and each carrier. When you partner with a captive agent, they are only going to give you the best aspects of their policy. An independent agent can tell you why one policy is a different price and why you might want to use or stray away from a particular carrier.
Establish a Formal Plan
After securing adequate insurance through an independent agent, it is important to establish a natural disaster response plan. The plan should be thorough and well thought out. Establishing a communication plan for how you will communicate with both your employees and your customers can go a long way to the success of your businesses recovery efforts. When a hurricane is in the forecast, you should be able to have a few days if not a week to prepare. This is a time to let your customers know what is going on in the location of your business. Let them know that some things may be delayed if damage is to much.
Secure all Important Documents
In the days before a hurricane hits, It is important to secure important business documents. Those documents should include tax records, legal documents, and financial documents. These documents should be stored in order to ease removal in a small amount of time. In addition, you should make physical and digital backups. If your business has its own server for the corporate website and the internal documents, it is very important to have a plan for how you will keep these records safe during an emergency. In relation to the businesses specialized equipment, it is important to always take lots of photographs to establish a record of the business’ physical assets. It may be worthwhile to send a copy of these photos to your agent or carrier. When disaster does strike, photo evidence will help claims adjusters or federal relief agencies size up the damage more accurately.