Protecting Small Businesses During a Crisis

Posted in Tips

Check if your insurance policy covers riots and other emergencies.

The London riots started on August 6th and have already led to over $100 million dollars in damages, according to The Guardian. The full economic ramifications are still unknown.  Politicians are asking insurers to process claims quickly to solve the problem, but nothing is certain. Settling claims during a disaster is difficult since some documents may be destroyed due to fire or vandalism.  No matter what industry you’re in, a few precautions will protect your business in case of any emergency.

Get organized. If you don’t know where copies of insurance policies are or how much your policy covers, this could hurt your ability to process a claim. The more information you can provide to insurers in case of an emergency, the better. Keep track of who has access to this information and who will act as a liaison with the insurance company. It should go without saying, but this information is too important for temporary workers or interns to handle. Make sure the company’s liaison understands the policy and has the correct insurance company contact information.

Practice document management. A lock and key is not enough protection between important documents and destructive elements. Consider storing information in fireproof, tamper-resistant cabinets. Store copies of data on a server so there are multiple copies of it in a physical and virtual format. There are plenty of server and cloud computing options including Dropbox and Google Docs. If you only have paper versions of documents, start scanning and categorizing them so there are multiple formats. This intimidating task is worthwhile in case you lose one version of the documents. Consider hiring a librarian or someone with experience in in information technology or archiving to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Discuss emergency plans. An emergency plan doesn’t need to be complicated. If you hear about unusually destructive weather or other events that could occur near work, calmly discuss emergency plans with everyone who could be affected. Not everyone may be aware of an issue or take it seriously, but let them know safety is paramount. If possible, consider having everyone work from home while waiting out the emergency. Notify clients and assure them you’re trying to balance their needs with personnel safety. This is a good time to get employees’ creative input on managing projects and deadlines.

Get help from the community. In case disaster strikes, you can depend on other local business and members of the community for assistance. Local government and laws may be surprisingly helpful. For example, some London businesses who didn’t have riot coverage in their insurance policies are filing claims against the police under the country’s Riot Act. People will also respond to tweets and website updates about how the disaster has hurt business.

Consider indirect effects. The London riots’ unforeseen effects include prisons overflowing due to the high number of arrests. Think of all the ways an emergency could affect your business. A few possible problems include heavier traffic, higher police presence and suppliers shutting down. Pay attention to the news to get an idea of effects and when they will end.

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