September is National Preparedness Month, a time to remind everyone to make sure measures are in place for a potential disaster – from flooding and tornadoes to wildfire destruction and earthquake damage. Throughout the month, the public will be educated on how to prepare for emergencies including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks, with activities across the country to promote emergency preparedness.
Following are several measures to share with your business insureds to ensure they are prepared for a potential disaster.
Every business should have a disaster plan:
- How quickly a company can get back to business after a tornado, fire, flood or terrorist attack often depends on emergency planning done today. A commitment to planning now will help support employees, customers, the community, the local economy and even the country. It also protects the insured’s business investment and gives the company a better chance for survival.
- Disaster planning includes several key components:
- Risk assessment, ranging from self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. Look at which disasters are most common in the areas where the business operates.
- Continuity planning, which involves assessing how the business functions internally and externally in order to determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely vital to keep the business operating. Identify operations critical to survival and recovery, including emergency payroll, expedited financial decision-making and accounting systems to track and document costs in the event of a disaster. Decide who should participate in putting together the emergency plan. Ideally, this is a cross-section of people throughout the organization, including people with technical skills, as well as managers and executives. Make a list of the most important clients and proactively plan ways to serve them during and after a disaster. Identify key suppliers, resources and other businesses that the firm interacts with daily. Ensure that there are backup resources if a disaster shuts down a key supplier. Be sure to plan what will be done if the building or premises is not accessible. Crisis management procedures and those responsible for these procedures should be defined in advance. Review and practice these procedures with the staff.
- Have emergency supplies on hand, including fresh water, food, extra batteries, a flashlight, first aid kit, and battery-powered radio.
- Keep copies of important records, such as site maps, building plans, insurance policies, employee contact info, bank account records, supplier contracts, computer backups, etc. at an off-site location as well as in a waterproof, fireproof portable container. Store relevant information in the cloud.
- Plan for both evacuation and sheltering in place depending on the nature of the disaster. Develop clear, well-thought-out plans for both scenarios.
- Prepare for workplace medical emergencies. Encourage employees to take basic first aid and CPR training.
- Review plans annually to ensure they are updated and reflect any changes in employees or company functions.
- Practice the plan with employees providing them with disaster training and regular seminars. Drills and exercises help businesses prepare.
- Prepare for utility disruptions during and after a disaster. Speak with service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up operations such as portable generators to power vital aspects of the business in an emergency.
- Write a crisis communications plan detailing how the organization plans to communicate with employees, local authorities, customers and others during and after a disaster. Top company executives should be provided with all relevant information. It may also be important to update the general public. Inform customers about whether and when products will be received and services rendered. Advise officials on how the company is helping in the recovery effort. During the crisis, utilize technology like mobile apps that give you the ability to communicate anywhere you have Internet access and social media to reach a broader audience.
Review insurance coverage:
Without the proper insurance coverage, a business will likely experience major financial loss. Part of disaster planning includes ensuring that the business has the proper coverages in place, including protection for physical losses, flooding, and loss of revenue due to business interruption. Insurance policies vary, so it’s important that insureds understand what they are and aren’t covered for and how you can assist in closing coverage gaps.
RPS is here to assist you in securing the coverages your business clients need to weather a disaster. Just give us a call.