Jewelry trade shows and wedding season aren't the only signs that summer is here. Severe storms and natural disasters become widespread once temperatures start rising.
Unlike winter storms, every area in North America can be impacted by severe weather in the summer and the damages can be much more catastrophic.
Hurricanes are just the tip of the iceberg, too. Floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and damage from wind, hail, and lightning as a result of thunderstorms can wreak havoc on homes and businesses.
Because an estimated 25% of small businesses do not reopen after a major disaster, every jeweler needs to know how to make a disaster plan.
In order to make a disaster plan successful when it gets put to use, there needs to be some thoughtful and strategic thinking behind what you do. It can be difficult to know where to start, so here are four things that will help you build a solid foundation to your disaster plan.
1. Identify equipment to have on-hand that will protect your property and inventory
There are big differences when it comes to preparing for a hurricane versus a tornado or wildfire. Some disasters allow you time to prepare, while others can leave you scrambling to take shelter.
Based on where your business is located, determine what types of disasters are likely to affect you and how you need to prepare for them. Here are some general items to have on-hand at all times that will increase your safety:
- Backup generator
- First aid kit
- Extra storage for items normally left out of a safe
- Space for signs, banners, and other displays that could cause damage to other parts of your property or surrounding properties during high winds
- Tools and accessories for minor repairs (there's a difference between fixing a leaky sink and rerouting your plumbing - a DIY project could end up becoming a major burden)
2. Determine how your financial records and data will be backed up
It could be argued that tax information, inventory records, and customer data are more important than the physical assets of your business during and after a disaster. After all, if you lose data that is not properly backed up, it is essentially gone forever.
While it seems that everything can be backed up digitally nowadays, it's worth keeping physical copies of essential information on hand if you can't access information located on a hard drive or in the cloud.
Whichever way your information is stored, remember to make sure that it's secure and not at risk of being compromised. You could be facing a whole other disaster if your data gets compromised.
Lastly, time is of the essence when your property and inventory have been damaged. A good way to make sure an insurance claim is processed quickly — and the recovery process begins immediately — is by having vital information at your fingertips.
3. Create a list of key stakeholders to communicate with before, during, and after
First and foremost, make sure every employee is in the know. Regularly updating phone numbers and emails will help ensure this. Also, appointing one person to coordinate updates will help avoid message confusion and keep every on the same page.
Next, determine the key parties that will help you recover from the damage. In addition to your insurance agent and insurance company, this includes:
- vendors, and
- other business partners.
4. Have the right insurance coverage
Don't assume you'll be covered for any peril that threatens your business just because you have insurance. Some business owners find themselves paying extra out-of-pocket expenses after a claim is filed because they don't have well-rounded coverage or have improper limits.
Asking yourself questions like these can help make sure you're adequately covered if a disaster were to strike:
- Are my inventory figures up-to-date?
- Is my building and business personal property valued correctly?
- Could I be liable for damage to a neighbor's property, too?
- Will I be covered for any amount of lost earnings during the time when my business is closed due to the disaster?
The best way to make sure you're properly covered is to work with an agent that is an expert in jewelers block insurance. If you're not working with an agent representing Jewelers Mutual, it's time you looked into it.