With 30 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, 2020 was the most active hurricane season in recorded history, resulting in damages totaling about $40 billion. Disclosure 1
2021 is expected to be the sixth consecutive year of above-normal hurricane activity in the US. Experts predict that the upcoming hurricane season will bring 16-20 named storms, and seven to 10 hurricanes – three to five of which are expected to be “major hurricanes.” Disclosure 2
So how do you prepare your business to weather the potential damages hurricanes can cause? The good news is that a relatively small investment of time and money now may prevent severe damage and disruption to your business down the road. Here’s a checklist to get you on the right track.
1. Know your building’s vulnerability to flooding or severe wind damage.
- Map the flood risk to your business using this tool from FEMA.(opens in a new tab)
- Know the elevation of your building and have it inspected by a licensed professional to make sure the roof and other building connections comply with the wind loading requirements for your area.
- If your building has large expanses of glass, consider using impact-resistant glass or impact-resistant film products to protect the glass areas.
2. Take these precautions if a potential hurricane is in the forecast.
- Cover non-impact resistant windows with shutters or plywood.
- Cover and move your equipment and furniture to a secure area, if possible.
- Protect all data by making backup files and storing the duplicates away from the area that could be affected by the storm.
- Make provisions for alternate communications and power, especially if your business cannot shut down during the course of the emergency.
- Be prepared to have limited access to normal banking services in a hurricane’s aftermath.
- Plan on losing water, sewer, electrical and phone services following a hurricane.
- Keep emergency supplies on hand, including a first aid kit.
- Prepare a list of vendors and telephone numbers critical to your daily operations, and store them somewhere you can safely access.
3. Consider your staff.
- To aid in quick and effective communication, prepare a list of all employees, including phone numbers, addresses and any location where they may go in the event of an evacuation.
- Remember that most employees will need time following a hurricane to take care of their families’ needs.
- If your business must continue to operate during a storm, provide good shelter.
- If you need to get back to work quickly after a storm and need critical employees to get the business up and running, plan on helping them meet their personal and family needs.
4. Keep your customers and suppliers informed.
- If you plan to shut down your business during a hurricane, make sure your customers and suppliers know what’s happening.
- If possible, arrange for telephone, fax, and other communications to be rerouted to you elsewhere if your lines go out.
5. Proceed with caution in the storm’s aftermath.
- Be cautious about entering your business, even if it appears undamaged. Check power lines, gas service and the building’s overall structure.
- Try to avoid additional damage by boarding up any broken windows or doors to prevent further rain damage and looting.
- If any electrical equipment gets wet, have it checked by an electrician before turning on the power.
- Keep careful track of all losses and damage-related expenditures.
- Obtain independent estimates of damage.
- Document all losses with photos or videos.
- Don’t wait for an adjuster to arrive before making emergency repairs.
6. Review your insurance coverage.
- Prepare a list of insurance carriers, policy numbers and contact information for your agent and their claims office.
- Store copies of your insurance policies in a safe place.
- Inventory, document and photograph your business equipment, supplies and the workplace.
- Have your business appraised at least every five years.
- Consider purchasing business interruption insurance and adding coverage to protect against lost revenues.
- Also consider adding a commercial flood insurance policy. Remember, standard commercial property insurance typically doesn’t cover flood damage that often follows hurricanes.
Center for Disaster Philanthropy, “2020 Hurricane Season,” accessed Dec. 16, 2020, https://disasterphilanthropy.org/disaster/2020-atlantic-hurricane-season/
AccuWeather, “US to face above-normal strikes from tropical systems in 2021... again,” accessed April 5, 2021, https://www.accuweather.com/en/hurricane/accuweathers-2021-atlantic-hurricane-season-forecast/924431
Insurance products and services offered through McGriff Insurance Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Truist Insurance Holdings, LLC, are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not guaranteed by a bank, not insured by any federal government agency and may go down in value.
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