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In the United States, it has been a relatively quiet year for catastrophes. There were wildfires along the West Coast earlier in the year; the earthquake in Napa Valley, Calif., in August; and flooding in the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The recent Polar Vortex that blanketed much of the country and dropped more than five feet of snow in some areas has also done extensive damage in terms of collapsed roofs and structures. Flooding from the melting snow may produce secondary damage for many homeowners.

No one can be totally prepared for everything, but taking steps before a disaster strikes can minimize the impact for insurers and their policyholders.

Here are some recommendations to help prepare for a wide variety of catastrophes.

General Preparation

  • Prepare a photo inventory of your home or office. Go room by room and take digital photos of the contents. Pay particular attention to antiques, unique works of art, office equipment and any irreplaceable items. Jewelry, furs, expensive “toys,” electronics, collections (i.e., stamps, coins, dolls, pottery, etc.) should be catalogued and may require their own policies depending on their value. Memories become fuzzy and establishing the value of heavily damaged items becomes a challenge after the fact.

  • Monitor the weather either with alerts on your desktop or phone, or on the television. This will keep you abreast of possible storms, hurricanes, snowstorms and tornadoes, so you can contact your policyholders, prepare your office and move resources into position for after the weather event.

  • Select several key news outlets like one of the major networks, the Weather Channel or several local news stations around the country to track breaking news of storms and other disasters so you’re notified as soon as possible.

  • Create an emergency disaster kit with items like batteries, bottled water, canned goods and a can opener, matches and flashlights in case a disaster hits with little notice. Most people have these items in their homes, but tracking them all down when the lights are out can be a challenge.

  • Prepare a file with all insurance policies, the photo inventory, names of contractors — e.g., roofer, plumber, electrician, disaster restoration company, etc. and keep this in a safe but accessible location.

  • Analyze possible threats to your business — i.e., fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, server crash, data breach, theft.

  • Determine how your company can and should respond to each threat.

  • Identify specific situations that put disaster plans in motion when facing a threat.

  • Create a plan in case a disaster hits without warning.

  • Involve your team in the planning and communicate often.

  • Identify vendors who can respond to a wide variety of perils, have the necessary training, expertise, equipment and insurance policies. Vet them in advance, check references and see what type of response times they can guarantee if a major disaster occurs.

  • Today's technology allows companies to be far more mobile than their predecessors, especially with proper planning, so consider taking your company mobile:

    1. Convert paper files to electronic files when possible.

    2. Set up several laptops to access agency management systems remotely.

    3. Create an employee phone tree with cell phone numbers, distribute the emergency numbers and test the process before a disaster hits.

    4. Investigate text communication options for your staff and clients. If feasible, gather client cell phone numbers and test the system regularly.

According to the Small Business Administration, roughly 40-60% of businesses never reopen following a disaster. “A business continuity plan is an essential factor of a small company's long-term success and will contribute to the community's economic recovery in the aftermath of a disaster,” says Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Read More: Source

Posted 8:45 AM  View Comments

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