Every year, there are devastating stories about the impact of hurricanes on small businesses. Whether it’s losses due to being forced to close for an extended period of time, food spoilage costs at restaurants that lost electricity, or damage to inventory at retailers, the impact that major storms have on the local economy can be staggering.
In fact, FEMA reported that 40% of small business impacted by hurricanes do not immediately reopen, and 25% of close within a year.
Jim Loughlin, a small business insurance expert at CoverWallet, the tech company that makes it easy for businesses to understand, buy, and manage insurance online, is providing these 10 tips to help businesses brace for the storm.
- Have a communications plan in place. Encourage your employees to charge their cell phones leading up to the storm in case power goes out. This way, you can keep in touch with them about any changes to business operations.
- Protect your business electronics. Take electronic devices including point-of-sale devices, computers, phones, credit card machines, and printers and put them someplace you know will stay dry and protected from storm damage.
- Backup your data. If you operate off of a server or if any of your business data is stored on a hard drive, be sure to have a backup version in a remote location, away from the storm’s path.
- Clear anything that could become debris. Cut down any shrubs or bushes near your storefront and bring any signage inside to avoid property damage.
- Relocate commercial vehicles. If you have company vehicles, move them somewhere that the storm will not reach to prevent damage.
- Protect the interior. Install floodgates, sandbags, and flood doors to prevent or reduce flooding, and board up windows with plywood if the hurricane is looking strong.
- Manage your supply chain. Get in touch with suppliers about any orders and ask to delay them if necessary. They might not be able to reach you, or you might not be able to receive an order, so it is necessary to be in communication.
- Lock up. As you leave, turn off the circuit breaker for electricity (except for the refrigerator if you are in the food business), lock all windows, and lock the doors. Be sure to know how your alarm will react if power is turned off, as some are triggered when the power goes on and off.
- Take inventory. Have a list of any unused food if you’re a restaurant and a list of the goods in your store if you are a retailer. If you need to make any claims, you may need to provide a list of damaged goods for insurance purposes. Take pictures of your store and inventory before the storm strikes to have as a backup.
- Know your insurance information. Be sure to have the contact information for your insurance company and details of your policy in case you need to make any claims.
One key aspect of being prepared is having the right insurance in place. Businesses should ensure Business Interruption insurance is included in their current policy. Most Business Interruption insurance is currently not being sold on the East Coast due to the upcoming hurricanes, but it would protect losses if a business had to close for a period of time due to property damage.