Prepping Small Business Clients for Storm Season

The 2010 hurricane forecast makes preparedness a priority.

With a severe hurricane season approaching, homeowners aren’t the only one who need to prepare. Brokers may want to help small business clients in at-risk areas take steps that will let them weather the 2010 storm season.

Storm damage–everything from power loss to physical damage–can wreak havoc on a small business, according to risk control experts at Traveler’s Insurance. The insurer has created the following preparedness list:

1. Business Continuity

Small businesses should review their business continuity plan at the beginning of the storm season, and share specific evacuation or business continuity strategies with their employees, the insurer bulletin advises, noting, “if a Business Continuity Plan is not currently in place, now is the time to speak with an independent insurance agent to help develop one.”  The bulletin also suggests that business owners create an emergency file containing all vital business documents, customer records and supplier lists.

2. Backing Up

Businesses in the storm’s path should also have a backup generator and batteries on hand, the bulletin advises, Citing U.S. National Federation of Independent Business data, it  points out that 21% of small businesses hit by a disaster had to close up shop due to power loss.

3. Protect Your Windows and Doors

All windows ard door’s should be secured–even those that don’t face water, the Traveler’s risk control experts say. The bulletin recommends checking for leaks and termite damage before a storm is in the forecast and fitting doors dead-bolt locks and three hinges. “If a business is located directly on the beach or gulf, storm shutters are also strongly recommended.”

4. Curbing Business Risk

High winds can damage roofs and break windows, but they can also topple trees and shrubs, which can cause equal damage.  “Trees and shrubs should be trimmed so that branches are at least seven feet away from any exterior building surface,” advises the bulletin. “Owners should also remove any bricks or loose debris from their buildings before a storm hits to avoid having them become dangerous projectiles in the wind.”

5. Review Your Policies

Look over business owner policies and make sure businesses are covered for potential hurricane losses like wind, flood and interruption issues at the beginning of hurricane season. Talk to your clients about any necessary add-ons, the bulletin advises.

“Businesses without proper insurance coverage and those that don’t plan ahead to mitigate risk are at great risk of not recovering following a hurricane or other natural disaster,” said John P. O’Connor, Traveler’s vice president of product and underwriting.

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