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Dec 10

Smart Business Planning for Unexpected Emergencies

Disasters: Preparing for the Unexpected

From natural disasters like wildfires, floods and earthquakes to health hazards like COVID-19, businesses face a variety of unexpected emergencies that can bring operations to a standstill. And when business stops, income drops. Roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses fail following a disaster.

That’s a pretty frightening number, and while disasters cannot always be prevented proactive measures can help mitigate the aftermath. Taking stock of insurance policies and developing a workable business continuity plan are critical to this effort.

Insurance policies

Businesses large and small are subject to both mandatory and optional insurance policies of which there is a wide range of options. Commercial property policies protect a business’ property and assets depending on the industry, what needs protection, and state and local laws.

General liability policies provide protection against claims for bodily injury, property damage and other personal liabilities. Commercial auto policies are important for businesses that use company vehicles.

Business income interruption insurance is designed to pay for fixed expenses and lost revenue due to a closure. And Data breach and cyber liability policies can be useful as digital payments increase and the collection of customer data for loyalty and marketing programs becomes more commonplace.

At the very least, most small businesses need a business owners policy (BOP). This is an all-in-one option that combines business property, business liability and business income insurance.

Whichever insurance policies you choose, it’s important to understand exactly what’s covered and what’s not. As many business owners unfortunately discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, most business insurance policies exclude losses due to viruses, bacteria and contagious diseases.

Business continuity planning

Since insurance policies do not cover all the costs businesses face with a natural disaster or unexpected emergency, having a business continuity plan in place is essential. The breadth of the plan depends on the type and size of the business. Here are some general things to consider when developing your business continuity plan:

  • Understand your risk. Consider the potential external hazards to your business (e.g. earthquake, wildfire, flooding) as well as the potential internal hazards (e.g. data theft, supply chain issues).
  • Identify and protect your key assets. These include your employees, business property, sensitive data, product inventory, financial assets, essential technology and computer equipment.
  • Know your insurance policies. Make sure you have sufficient coverage for your key assets, understand what is exempt and know who to contact during a business disrupting event.
  • Compile emergency contact information. Keep essential numbers readily available so you can easily contact your insurer, employees, utility providers, vendors and any other key personnel when necessary.
  • Develop a communications plan. Determine how you will notify and communicate with your emergency contact list and implement a policy for resuming operations and management continuity if key personnel cannot fulfill their roles.

Prepare for the unexpected

While no one could have predicted the widespread impact of COVID-19, it’s certainly not the last unexpected emergency businesses will face. Those who take the time to evaluate their risks and plan for the future have a better chance of weathering these challenges.

As you develop your business continuity plan, we’re available to offer guidance and support for anything related to your payments system. Connect with one of your payment experts to discuss your options that can protect your payments revenue.

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