SCC Bureau of Insurance Encourages Businesses to Plan Now for Natural Disasters

Financial

SEP 14, 2022

RICHMOND – What would you do if your business is flooded, or a fire or powerful winds destroyed your building? Natural disasters can take a severe toll on businesses, knocking them out of commission for days, weeks or months and curtailing even the best laid plans. Some businesses never reopen following a natural disaster, and others that can reopen may fail within one year after disaster strikes.

Even natural disasters far away - including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes – can impact your business by disrupting supply chains and communications. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to natural disasters since they often have fewer resources, locations and employees to help them become operational again.

"How you plan for and respond to disasters can determine whether your business survives," said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Protect yourself and your business against the unexpected by having the insurance coverage you need and updating it regularly.”

The State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) urges businesses to undertake advance planning – both physical and financial – to safeguard employees, protect assets and minimize business disruptions. To get your business running again as quickly as possible after a disaster, here are some steps you can take now:

  • Understand risks, including the potential danger of natural disasters;
  • Have emergency disaster and business continuity plans in place;
  • Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date by reviewing policies and making adjustments as needed; and
  • Know how to respond if disaster strikes.

The Bureau specifically urges you to educate yourself on what your insurance policies cover and how much money you may need to make repairs and pay employees, creditors and yourself in the event of a disaster. Consider:

  • What your deductibles, coverage limits and exclusions are;
  • Whether additional or separate coverages are needed, such as coverage for damage related to floods or earthquakes, which are not usually covered by standard business insurance policies;
  • Whether you need to buy separate automobile insurance for business vehicles;
  • Whether your business and its contents are insured for current replacement cost; and
  • If you need business interruption insurance to cover loss of income that your business may suffer after a disaster.

Additional steps small business owners can take include the following:

  • Share business continuity plans with employees that include current employee contact information, backup vendors or suppliers and a temporary relocation site;
  • Develop a communication plan and procedures for work processes and payroll during a disaster or business interruption;
  • Keep preparedness items onsite at your workplace – including disaster provisions, maps with evacuation routes and access to a working radio and mobile apps for emergency instructions;
  • Compile and safely store an inventory of assets and equipment (including computer hardware), as well as back up all personal and company data regularly in case information is lost during a disaster;
  • Keep physical copies of important records (such as building plans, insurance policies, bank accounts and employee contact information) in a safe, waterproof and fireproof place;
  • After a disaster strikes your business, contact your insurance agent or company immediately and ask what information is needed to file a claim.

The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides specifically geared to businesses. To learn more, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9185 or visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

For additional emergency preparedness information relating to disasters, visit vaemergency.gov.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141