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image of business flooded after a hurricane

A Note From The Insurance Centers: Summer is the season for fun. However, summer also means hurricane season. Not many people know what to do, to protect their home or business when a hurricane hits. We're here to help remind you! Remember, it takes 30 days for your flood insurance to be active. Don't wait until the last minute to contact us!  

Hurricane damage poses a major threat for everyone in a storm's path, but for small business owners, a hurricane can spell destruction. In fact, in 2016 alone, natural disasters caused $175 billion in damages, according to CNN. Many business owners can't afford to rebuild and reinvest after their business is wiped out, leading to a high likelihood of permanent closure.

Given that there's so much at stake in the event of a natural disaster for business owners, how can entrepreneurs prepare for the threat of a hurricane? Here are three tips that could make all the difference if weather risks become a reality.

Understand Your Risk Profile
One of the most important aspects of preparing for a natural disaster is understanding which disasters are most likely to occur in for your area of operation. If, for example, your business sits in the Gulf Coast region, you're probably not going to focus your efforts on preparing for a catastrophic snow storm.

With this in mind, hurricanes pose the greatest threat in the southern half of the Atlantic coast, as well as the south and Gulf coast regions. Companies further north along the coast and into the northeast and midwestern regions need to be aware that storm damage and flooding as a result from a hurricane can span as far as these areas as well. New York City is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy's 2012 strike with an estimated $15 billion in total repairs.

Having your risk assessed by a professional actuarial company can offer some crucial guidance as far as how useful preparing for a hurricane (and purchasing the proper disaster insurance) can be for your business.

Fortify Your Business
As a business owner, it's easy to believe that hurricanes only happen to other people in other cities. But in reality, weather damage can strike anyone at any time.

Many small businesses can be affected by heavy winds, water damage, and flooding because they operate the majority of their business functions from one or two sites in the same community. If this is the case for your company, you need to make special arrangements for the preservation of your business's physical integrity. Investing in heavy-paned glass, doors with a deadbolt and more than three hinges and impact-graded roofing materials can be crucial to maintaining ongoing protection against hurricanes.

But, business fortification goes beyond physical risk management. For companies in risk zones, take time to find out if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal safeguard that provides affordable access to flood insurance for homes and businesses in vulnerable areas. Disaster insurance is the best way to ensure that your business interests will be protected in the event of a hurricane. Selective offers flood insurance for business and personal property and contents.

Assemble a Contingency Plan
You always start a new business with a thorough business plan. To keep your business alive in the event of a hurricane, you'll need to build a business continuity plan. These plans must be tailored to individual businesses, of course, but important considerations will include:

Copying and protecting important documents like business contracts, legal papers and the lease or deed for the land on which the business is located. When a hurricane threatens your equipment and other capital, you'll need to have key documents available offsite.

Instructing employees on their roles in the event of a hurricane, including response protocol. If your business is destroyed by a hurricane, you'll need to have a plan in place with a designated location to continue your operations as fast as possible to avoid additional profit loss.

Unfortunately, many business owners don't know where to start when preparing their business in the event of a hurricane, and when it happens, they have nowhere to turn. Consider using a template to create a business continuity plan, and research your options in terms of available disaster insurance so that the destruction of your physical business by a hurricane doesn't mean the end of your business.

For information on flood insurance, contact Zita Santos-Martinez at (732) 82-4132.

Article and photo courtesy of Selective Insurance.

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