Is Your Small Business Prepared for Hurricane Season?
I don’t know about you, but I live on Ocean Drive in South Florida. That means when June rolls around I start paying much closer attention to the weather.
Hurricane season is officially upon us—and I’m believing for the best and preparing for the worst. I got a little help this year from Traveler’s Insurance, which has offered five things small business owners like me can do to make sure my business is protected it a storm hits.
Of course, these tips are also relevant for small business owners who live in areas where tornadoes or earthquakes or other weather events take place. So lets dive right in.
1.Create a Business Continuity Plan and Establish an "Emergency File"
Small business owners should review their Business Continuity Plans and communicate emergency evacuation and business interruption instructions to their employees at the start of the hurricane season. If you are an entrepreneur with virtual employees, make sure everyone is safe. Some virtual employees may not live in hurricane zones and can prepare to pick up the slack for others.
Small business owners should also create and properly store an "emergency file," which would contain all vital business-related documents such as insurance forms, customer records and supplier lists that might be needed at a moment’s notice to keep a business running.
2. Back Up Your Business
According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 21 percent of small businesses struck by disaster were forced to temporarily close operations because of power loss. In order to ensure that the bottom line isn’t affected by loss of electricity, business owners should keep a backup generator and plenty of batteries on hand so that business operations can continue.
3. Protect Your Windows and Doors
One of the easiest ways business owners can protect their operations from damage is by securing all windows and doors, even those not facing the ocean or gulf. Check for leaks and termite damage before a storm is in the forecast and have repairs made as necessary. All outside doors should be fitted with a dead-bolt lock and three hinges. If a business is located directly on the beach or gulf, storm shutters are also strongly recommended.
4. Trim Your Business Risk
More than 60 percent of the United States is vulnerable to damage from high-wind events such as hurricanes, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety. Yet, it isn’t always the wind that damages roofs and breaks windows; landscaping and shrubbery can also cause it. Trees and shrubs should be trimmed so that branches are at least seven feet away from any exterior building surface. Owners should also remove any bricks or loose debris from their buildings before a storm hits to avoid having them become dangerous projectiles in the wind.
5. Review Your Policies
It’s no secret that business owners are strapped for time. As a result, Business Owner’s Policies (BOP) are often not reviewed more than once a year. Travelers recommends reviewing BOPs at the start of every hurricane season to ensure a business is properly covered for potential hurricane losses like wind, flood and interruption issues. Owners should consult their insurance agents about any necessary add-on policies, as flood is not part of a standard BOP.