“Call for the generator and kick into business continuity alert mode – a category 5 storm is expected to hit Naples on Thursday.” Word of a Hurricane spread quickly, but did not come from the National Hurricane Center or The Weather Channel. Rather, Gulfshore Insurance announced internally that “a three-day agency-wide disaster preparedness drill designed to simulate a major hurricane in our area” would be held May 24-26.
Life has taught us that practice makes perfect and that it probably is unreasonable to expect everything to be orderly, sane, and fully functioning during or after a disaster. That is why Gulfshore Insurance hosted a multi-day, department-wide, hurricane readiness drill to intensively prepare the agency to deal with the effects of a major storm. The exercise was in preparation for the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, which began June 1st.
Consider these scenarios: a fire destroys your business property; a broken water pipe causes extensive water damage to your office; a thief vandalizes your practice and steals your equipment. While property insurance covers the cost of replacing your building, equipment, or materials in these unforeseen circumstances, how do you maintain your practice in the meantime? Business Interruption Insurance helps you get your office up and running again, in the shortest time possible and is part of a comprehensive insurance strategy to safeguard your practice when disaster strikes.
Regardless of the cause, how you address business interruptions says a lot about your company and your chance of having a future. When things seem bleak, here are some business interruption best practices that can help:
- Respond quickly: While you might be tempted to keep the situation quiet, waiting to contact other involved parties rarely leads to anything good. In fact, the opposite holds true, and wasted minutes can mean even greater losses. From the power company to police, identifying the issue and involving those that can help as soon as possible is the best option. Stabilizing the issue and expediting repair is crucial.
- Protect your customers: Most businesses that suffer a severe interruption struggle to recover. If you are to ride this out and return to being successful, then it is imperative that your customers be protected. Most customers will tolerate an interruption so long as it doesn’t carry over into losses for their own organization. From data to products to payments, make sure that your customers are not negatively impacted by whatever is happening to your business.
- Communicate: Keeping customers, partners, and vendors in-the-know with what is going on is key to surviving a business interruption. Customers need to be protected, but they also want to know what’s happening. Furthermore, clear communication can often bring in unknown resources to help solve your dilemma.
- Protect your employees: Business interruptions are stressful, not just for management, but employees, as well. Is the company able to recover from, for example, a hurricane hitting headquarters? Is the company able to continue if the warehouse burns down accidentally? Severe business interruptions greatly affect your business, which means it affects the people in your business. Reassure your team by keeping the lines of communication open regarding what is happening and how the event is directly impacting their future, as well.
- Document the event: Even while working to solve an issue and repair the business interruption, you should document what’s happening. Noting when you discovered the issue, when the issue was revolved, and all points in between will be instructive in protecting your business from this type of incident happening again. Record who you called for assistance and how quickly they responded, as well as the key points of any customer messaging and feedback.
- Not just stable, but stronger: Any vulnerabilities or weaknesses you find should be addressed proactively now instead of remaining as a lingering issue. After you have triaged the interruption and gotten your business operations underway again, revisit your risk mitigation strategy and make sure that you build in protections and strategies so this type of event is less likely to happen again and less costly if it does.
Making the best of a bad situation is never easy, particularly when that bad situation has had a negative effect on your business. But business interruptions do present opportunities to improve your business and make it all the more resistant to challenges in the future. Work to protect your organization and clients and repair the interruption quickly. Then, make sure you keep a good accounting of the event and work to prevent it from happening again.
Before we know it, the summer months will be in full swing. Remember, those who work outdoors are at a much higher risk for heat exhaustion, dehydration, sunburn, skin cancer and more. Skin cancer affects more than two million people every year and invasive melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, will kill more than 10,000 Americans this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is one death every 52 minutes. As an employer, are you doing enough for your crew?
Know the warning signs of heat-related illness:
- Extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- Weakness, dizziness or fainting
- Unusually elevated heart rate
- Fast and shallow breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
Protect your employees with these helpful tips:
- Rotate workers on a job site in and out of non-shaded areas, especially during the height of hazardous UV rays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time).
- Consider including heat safety and skin cancer education in your regular safety training.
- Educate employees on the early signs of heat exhaustion, dehydration and skin cancer.
- Encourage employees to look out for each other to detect wooziness, inability to focus, unsteadiness and reddening of the skin.
- Use and make sunscreen readily available to your employees as well as other PPE, like UV-resistant sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and re-fillable water containers.
- Create mandatory water breaks to re-hydrate the crew and provide them with plenty of water.
- Create and enforce policies about heat safety so employees know the company is serious about safety.
To Learn More, visit OSHA.gov
Following the recent devastation and flooding in Louisiana over the past few weeks, many are now facing the arduous task of removing debris from their properties and submitting insurance claims. Believe it or not, “debris” accounts for roughly 27% of the total cost of a disaster. Yet, debris management remains one of the most overlooked and least-planned-for components of disaster response and recovery.
FEMA recently issued a bulletin that outlines a policyholder’s responsibilities in the event of a loss. The Fact Sheet provided by FEMA details how you should report a flood claim; what to document in the aftermath of a disaster; how to properly document and dispose of debris/damaged property; where to get help; and more.
Please keep in mind, there are specific responsibilities that need to be followed in the event of a loss to ensure proper payment of claims.
Click here to view the full memorandum from FEMA. Our in-house staff of experienced flood insurance professionals is available to handle your questions and provide guidance.
Go ahead and blame Mother Nature for the things that can go terribly wrong at one’s home. Just not all of them. Damage caused by punishing weather — wind, hail, and rain — accounted for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims over the past six years, but there were other culprits as well, such as fire, leaky pipes, and theft.
The findings are contained in a new study which identified the most common and most expensive homeowners insurance claims based on a review of thousands of claims filed with the company from 2009 to 2015. The most common claims were for:
- Exterior wind damage – 25% of all losses
- Non-weather-related water damage (e.g., plumbing or appliance issues) – 19%
- Hail – 15%
- Weather-related water damage – 11%
- Theft – 6%
Any number of things can go wrong with a home, and it’s impossible to predict them all. However, if homeowners focus on these particularly common risks and take preventive steps and perform routine maintenance, it may help lessen the likelihood of damage.