Business preparedness plan are you ready?
When you have a commercial loss at your property having a property management company to call is simply is not going to be enough. There will be steps you need to take for prompt resolution. This timeline can be daunting for many business owners just looking to get back open.
The process is complicated and time consuming. When you have a lot of moving pieces and coordinate various vendors, service technicians, displaced employees and insurance adjusters. Having a plan in place ahead of any disaster will mitigate damages and the risk of you not opening back up. More than 50% of businesses that have a disaster do not reopen. Do not be one of them.
Let us take a look at some of the things you need to even if you do not know what will and will not be covered by insurance. You are obligated to protect the property from further damage and also from secondary damage. This means that tarps must be put on a compromised roof. Water must be extracted out, and wet materials need to be removed.
It is critical that you get in touch with the insurance company as soon as possible so that they can come out and start assessing the damages and assign coverage decisions. Once you have called the insurance company there is a lot of things to get through. The checklist below will allow you to get started.
____ Call the fire department and local building inspector. They will check for any structural issues and can also assess if the utilities are safe to be turned on. It is important to have a qualified technician turn on utilities. DO NOT RECONNECT UTILITES YOURESELF.
____ If structural issues are found call the local police to make them aware the building will be uninhabited. Obtaining private security depending on your situation could be something to think about. .
____ Take pictures a lot of them. Photograph everything. Papers, furniture, Knick knacks, food, clothing, appliances, all computers and IT equipment. Photograph any before during and after photos. Save it all to a hard drive or a zip drive.
____ Any incurred expenses you will have resulting in the loss. Must have a saved receipt to be considered for reimbursement.
____ Along with the photos it is important that any items not salvageable be set aside for the insurance adjuster to come out and review. Do not repair or throw away any damaged property until after an inventory is taken and approved by the insurance company’s adjuster.
____ Emergency Service contracts are the only ones you should be signing until the insurance company approves anything. You could be on the hook for some hefty bills.
____ Many insurance policies have a lot of clauses or deductibles. It is important to know these policy limits, so you are not caught by surprise.
____ Often times business insurance has other policies tied to it separate from the main policy. They could be business interruption claims, environmental claims, loss of use, business interruption…ect Check each policy accordingly you may have to file multiple claims.
____ Having a single person that will be the go to point person will make things much easier for you when trying to work through all the various people that will be involved.
____ Stay focused on getting back to business let those you have brought in work on the details needed for the claim filing. This is why having the place in place ahead of time will allow to have the right people already in place.
____ Delaying filing the claim can and we have seen it result in claim denial. It is an obligation under policies to notify all parties with a vested interest in the property when damages occur.
____ Creating a team of people that are on your side is the best and most effective way to make sure you get things taken care of quickly and in your best interests.
Having a plan in place before you need it is your best assurances that you can get back to normal as soon as possible. Starting with the right insurance agent that can properly asses your business its needs. Finding out your insurance is not adequate for the damages that were caused after the fact is the not the time to find these things out.
Trying to rally vendors, contractors, and such once a damage occurs is much more difficult when you are in the middle of a disaster. It can also be a lot costlier if you do not have established relationships. So as you plan for the new fiscal year take a look at your preparedness plan. Talk to the vendors you currently do business with and see where there are gaps. These gaps can be used as a guideline for setting your business up for a successful restoration.