Jonathan Edewards

Startling Stats about Business Closures following Extreme Weather

What happens to small businesses that suffer from an interruption of business?

Power outages, water damage, unavailability of employees to report to work, and the inability of customers to access your business could force you to close up shop in the aftermath of a major storm.  What happens then?

The Hartford has published this terrific graphic that demonstrates the importance of comprehensive Business Income insurance protection:

For the full article and graphic, visit the The Hartford’s website here.

 

Advertisements

Customer Service Matters – The Hartford

Will you be treated right?

When things go wrong–and even for every day needs like billing and showing proof of coverage–you want an insurance company that responds quickly and efficiently.  An insurance agent can help you when the insurance company is slow to respond, but why not start out with the best?

When it comes to customer service and satisfaction, I think that The Hartford Insurance Company is one of the best available.  I’ve personally seen The Hartford respond time and time again, and they are unfailingly pleasant and eager to help.

If you aren’t receiving the customer service that you’d like, and you are losing money because you are wasting time trying to fix insurance problems, call me and we’ll get you started with The Hartford immediately.

 

[UPDATE SEPT 2017:  Unfortunately, due to poor loss experience (higher than anticipated claims) The Hartford has discontinued issuing new Homeowners & Auto policies in the state of California. They will continue to offer Business Insurance and other types of insurance and financial products.]

Keep Your Shorts Dry: Bill & Rita’s Business Continuity Plan Story

Bill owns a dry cleaning and uniform rental business in Beaumont, Texas.

Rita was born at sea, at the tail of an old frontal boundary, where convection and low-level circulation around an upper-level low developed from a little windstorm into a big windstorm.

Rita is Hurricane Rita–a category 5 that hit in 2005.

In our last exciting episode of Edewards.net, we suggested the need for business owners to have Business Continuity Plan, so that they can operate their business in the wake of a disaster.  A business that can get back on its feet quickly can meet the desperate needs that suddenly arise, turning disaster into opportunity.

This is the story of Bill & Rita, and how a Business Continuity Plan played out in real life.

Originally, Hurricane Rita was not forecasted to come near Beaumont. In fact, it was supposed to hit down the coast about 150 miles. But, the weather pattern made a fast change and Hurricane Rita came charging straight through. The entire community evacuated, and Bill’s employee’s scattered across several states.

Though Bill had a rudimentary emergency plan in place, it did not account for power loss or for the shortage of food and supplies after the hurricane. It took Bill a week to reopen his business.

However, when he did reopen, he discovered there wasn’t much of a need for dry cleaning among his customers. There was, on the other hand, a huge need for a laundry service in the community. Local contractors needed clean clothes, so Bill’s company stepped up to fill this demand with a wash, dry, and fold service.

Though many of his employees had made their way back to Beaumont and were ready to come back to work, schools had not reopened yet, so they needed a place where their children could be supervised. To solve this issue, Bill allowed his employees to bring their kids to work. Some of the kids pitched in and worked (perhaps not the best idea from a workers comp standpoint, but probably OK if the activity was very safe, such as folding laundry).  Younger children played in a conference room that was converted into a kid-friendly area complete with video games and toys.

Hurricate Rita

Rita hits the Texas coast

“Though we had a basic emergency plan in place and were fortunate enough to reopen relatively quickly, we knew we could do a lot better,” said Bill.

After Hurricane Rita, Bill immediately took additional steps to be better prepared for the future. As a result, Bill drafted a plan to board up and secure buildings prior to evacuation and created a more in-depth communication program that requires employees to contact their supervisors within 48-hours to let them know their location and a phone number where they can be reached. In addition, he stocked-piled supplies including bedding and linens, hygiene products, and enough food to feed 15 key employees for up to three and a half days. Those key employees, who are critical to getting the business back up-and-running, have been identified and notified, and Bill has worked with local authorities to get them clearance to return to the area early.

Additionally, Bill has installed showers and a natural-gas generator. He also contacted his power provider to arrange for his utilities to be turned back on within 48-hours of an incident.

“I can’t imagine any business moving forward without a plan. If businesses are up and running, individuals can receive a paycheck and the community can stabilize,” concluded Bill. “If businesses are able to recover, the local economy is able to come back. It’s so critical.”

This material is directly adapted from the federal government’s excellent disaster preparedness website, http://www.ready.gov, which provides sample BCM plans and a boatload of other useful information.  Special thanks to Sonia at Golden Eagle Insurance who pointed it out to us.  Thanks, Sonia!

Does your business have an Earthquake Plan?

The Big One hits.   Power is out.   Roads are blocked.   Supplies are limited. 

How fast can your business get back on its feet? 

Can you be better prepared than your competitors?

Could you gain new customers by being ready when other businesses are not?

 

Los Angeles and Orange County California Fault Map

Fault Lines in Southern California

Here are some strategies for preparing for the earthquake, before it hits.

  • Establish a Business Continuity Management Plan (BCM) that takes crisis management, and business recovery, into consideration. If a BCM is already in place, review and update it as needed for earthquake readiness.
  • Consider where your employees live and discuss plans for continuing work.  How will they get to work if routes are blocked?  How will you communicate with them if cell phones & telephones & internet connections are down?  Can you establish and agree upon predetermined procedures that can work around such complications?
  • Brace all tall shelves and cabinets, tall machinery and equipment, or any top-heavy objects that could topple.
  • Brace and support overhead-mounted fixtures, suspended ceilings, piping, heaters, and other overhead-mounted devices.
  • Plan for continuous plant security.  How will you protect your property from looters?
  • Provide auxiliary equipment and energy supplies for critical services such as communications and lighting.
  • Provide adequate support for mainframe computers.  Back up your data at an off-site location.
  • Provide flexible fuel supply connectors to avoid ruptured gas lines, etc.
  • Bolt down and secure fuel-fired appliances, along with any pressurized gas cylinders.

    Insufficiently secured gas cylinders

    Will these gas cylinders break loose of their chains and roll?

  • Provide isolation valves for piping systems.
  • Provide alternate energy sources for vital equipment and services.
  • Plan for customer and client awareness and communications.
  • Provide an alert and warning system for all personnel on the premises.
  • Designate a BCM Coordinator and a BCM Team. Assign responsibility to specific employees for advance arrangements to initiate the plan.
  • Conduct a business impact analysis and risk assessment of the facility and its operations. Upgrade deficient areas.
  • Upgrade the facility to current earthquake codes.
  • Inspect tanks, stacks, signs, and chimneys for deterioration and bracing. Repair and strengthen as necessary.
  • Identify and designate safe shelter areas in the structures.
  • Identify and designate at least two evacuation routes for all areas.

 Next up: What to do AFTER the earthquake hits