Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Joaquin’

Hurricane Joaquin Offers Lessons on Business Continuity

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

New York TimesThis morning’s edition of the New York Times includes a very informative article on the importance of continuity plans for small businesses, particularly after Hurricane Joaquin moved up the East Coast. I was quoted and my book cited throughout the article, but of course, until the newspaper is published, I do not know of the other sources and information that will be included. So I really enjoyed reading the article and learning from the other sources cited. For me, the key takeaways in the article, which happen to be consistent with the advice given in Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, include:

  • The failure of small businesses to prepare. The 2015 Travelers Business Risk Index found that only 21 per cent of small businesses have continuity plans.
  • The devastating consequences of the failure to prepare. The article cites the experience of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, which indicates that 40 to 60 per cent of small businesses never recover after experiencing a natural disaster. The article relates the heartbreaking story of the pizzeria impacted by the floods in South Carolina. The business owner did not have a continuity plan in place or flood insurance and plans to apply for FEMA aid. However, and it is probably too soon after the floods for South Carolina businesses to appreciate this, FEMA is not set up to rebuild unprepared small businesses.
  • The need for simplicity in business continuity planning. The article cites an effective plan that is three pages in length, clear and easy to understand.
  • The need for continuous learning and improvement as part of a team effort.  The managing director of a leather business in New Jersey incorporated lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy to improve its level of preparedness for future hazards. He is moving his business to a more secure facility and has retrofitted his data center for better flood protection. His business continuity plan benefited from input from each of the company’s departments; preparing is not the sole responsibility of emergency managers.
  • The unique vulnerability of food service businesses. Restaurants need to verify that they have appropriate insurance coverage for the losses due to food spoilage, which can be substantial.
  • Unique risks specific to local hazards, such as earthquakes. The article cites the measures taken by a California winery to address earthquake risks.
  • The availability of free resources to inform small business preparedness efforts, including (my first business is featured as a case study on this site).
  • Finally, the long-term emotional consequences of living through a major disaster. Don’t underestimate this as a factor limiting your productivity as a small business owner. One small business leader who worked through Hurricane Sandy spoke of his sense of uncertainty and frequent calls to his psychologist.

And I love the quote that appears at the end of the article. The business leader impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey said, “you can’t prevent bad things from happening, but you can change how you respond.” I just love the New York Times; I read it on my iPad over breakfast every morning. It is part of my routine that sets me up for a productive day, because I always learn something when I read the NYT.

NBC News Advises Viewers to Get Their Insurance “Go Kits” Ready

Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Insurance Files to Go

Insurance Files to Go

Even if Hurricane Joaquin fails to strike with full hurricane force, it will leave much of the East Coast with severe rains and likely flooding, so it pays to prepare. This evening, NBC News included my advice in its report recommending that viewers have their insurance “go kits” ready in advance. I like the metaphor of the “insurance go kit” because just as your physical “go kit” should be stocked with batteries, bottled water and other supplies, your insurance files should be ready to go on a moment’s notice.

That is because what you do in advance of a disaster will determine if your insurance claim is paid in a timely manner or paid at all. You need to set yourself up for success by ensuring you have appropriate coverage for your risks and that you can substantiate your losses, when needed. You need to have a flood insurance policy for thirty days before coverage takes effect, so if you are not appropriately insured, it may be too late for this storm, but start to put a plan in place for the next one.

Meanwhile, there are some basic steps you can take to be ready. If you have not already done so, give your insurance carrier wire instructions to electronically deposit paid insurance claims into your bank account. In the event of a severe storm, it may not be possible, or even safe, for you to retrieve a paper check and deposit it at your bank. Electronic banking services can reduce the risk of your cash flow disruption and are easy to set up. Thanks to Kristin Wong of NBC News for informative and helpful reporting.