In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, businesses are left picking up the pieces of the trail of destruction it left, not only in Florida and Georgia, but with widespread flooding in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina.
Events like this always leave those with the question, how can we protect ourselves and our business from future hurricanes and storms?
Hart S. Brown, Vice President of Organizational Resilience for global insurance brokerage HUB International’s Risk Services Division, has nearly 20 years experience in security, crisis management, emergency management and business continuity. Brown recommends businesses take the following steps prior to prepare themselves for a storm:
Before the Hurricane or Storm
Protect your property. Board-up windows and remove or tie down any exterior equipment.
Protect your physical records. Tarp your essential documents to keep them from exposure to the elements.
Take pictures. Take thorough pictures of your property, inventory, roof and all building renovations. This is essential for the claims process to minimize any 'pre-existing' condition arguments made by the insurance company.
Back-up business-critical information. Your database and records are key to your business. Make full copies and keep the copies off-site. These records are essential to mitigate your exposure and in documenting your claim.
Keep a complete copy of your insurance policies. Make sure you have appropriate and adequate coverage in place.
Have a response team in place. Put together your first response team in the event you sustain damage as a result of the hurricane or storm.
After the Hurricane or Storm
Document the damage. Take post-loss pictures and/or video, including the debris pile, prior to any clean-up.
Protect your property from further damage. Contact your first response team to perform emergency work such as putting up tarps, pulling wet drywall and carpet to prevent mold, water extracting and drying, boarding up openings and protective fencing to protect your belongings and keep others from getting hurt.
Rent equipment. If necessary, you should arrange to rent equipment (IE: generators, boilers, water heaters) to restore your operation.
Beware of contractors asking you to sign contracts for non-emergency services. You should not make any permanent repairs to build your business until your insurance carrier has assessed the scope of the damage as well as the cost allowed for the repair/replacement of the damage.
Document all your post-loss activities. Document and retain all receipts of post-loss actions.