Weather events impact small businesses every day. In fiscal year 2015, the U.S. Small Business Administration provided 46,000 businesses and individuals with $2.8 billion in disaster loans.
“No business owner wants to think it will happen to them,” admits Bob Freitag, president of AmeriClaims Inc., a firm of public adjusters in Indian Trail, NC. “But think about Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, spring tornadoes in the Plains, and flooding in South Carolina. Weather catastrophes happen all year long.”
Follow these steps to prepare for any weather emergency:
- Develop a Plan. How will you manage in the event of a weather disaster? Who is responsible for doing what? What do you need to run your business at a remote site? Stock up on office supplies and necessary storm supplies, and make sure you can access your data. “Data that isn’t updated until the end of a month, quarter or year may not seem as critical, but some weather-created disasters, such as a tornado or hurricane, can have an impact for a long time,” cautions Pete Robie, senior vice president of customer care for Vision Solutions, a Chicago-based disaster recovery and migration software developer.
- Understand Your Coverage.“Your standard workers compensation insurance for employees and general liability insurance for your customers should protect your business from injuries suffered on your premises,” says Tim Davis, the sales manager for Columbia, MO-based General Liability Shop LLC. In addition to property and casualty insurance, talk to your broker about adding business interruption insurance to your business owner’s policy. “If [an owner] does not have business interruption or extra expense coverage, they will not be able to claim their loss of revenue or relocation expenses. This means that all of these expenses will have to be out-of-pocket to the owner,” Freitag adds. Read about home office insurance myths and realities.
- Watch the Weather.“The biggest mistake may seem like common sense, but unfortunately it happens quite frequently: Not paying attention,” says John Boucher, CEO of ModusLink Global Solutions, a supply chain logistics firm near Boston. “Knowing about a storm as soon as possible gives you and your team ample time to prepare for the worst and get as much done as possible. This additional time could be used to make crucial game-changing decisions.” A NOAA weather radio can help, especially for immediate threats like flash floods and tornadoes.
“Proper planning helps to protect employees, lessen the financial ramifications, and help the business re-open sooner to support economic recovery in the community,” explains Marianne Markowitz, an SBA regional administrator.