This is Part II of our two-part blog series outlining strategies for business owners to mitigate losses suffered during a hurricane. Because an unanticipated disaster can ultimately cause the failure of a business, experienced Miami business insurance claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo has provided tips for small business owners facing the start of hurricane season.
Preparations at the Start of Hurricane Season & Commencement of a Storm Watch
There are a range of specific precautions that might be undertaken prior to the start of hurricane season as well as once a hurricane watch is in place. Preparations that should be undertaken prior to the commencement of hurricane season include:
- Documenting the condition of the property, equipment and other property by taking video
- Photocopy inventories, insurance policies, financial documents and other important business records and safeguard them offsite
- Arrange for storage of business vehicles at an alternate location
- Clear drains and gutters to facilitate water run-off
- Pre-arrange transportation and storage for business records
- Set up a business to back up and restore computer files
- Confirm that your facility complies with building codes
In addition to these steps, the additional preparations that should be implemented during a hurricane watch include:
- Place any documents or records remaining at the business off the ground and away from windows to prevent water damage/destruction
- Patch or otherwise repair any potential leaks near windows, roofs or doors
- Lock all windows
- Arrange alternate security in case your alarm systems loses power
- Move as much remaining equipment, documents and other property to the center of the facility
- Set up payroll arrangements to continue paying employees before banks shutdown
- Use heavy plastic sheeting or other materials to protect business equipment and documents
- Move any external displays racks, signs and other loose items inside the building
- Uses shutters or plywood to protect glass doors or windows to prevent wind entry
- Unplug electric equipment, appliances or electronics
- Move items in lower file cabinet drawers to higher drawers
- Take loose documents or other items and move them to drawers or file cabinets
- Take down items hanging from walls
Evaluate Business Interruption Coverage
There are multiple forms of business interruption coverage, so you should review your policy to ensure that you have sufficient coverage for the various forms of loss. Types of business interruption coverage you might wish to consider include:
- Business Income Loss: This form of coverage essentially is designed to replace lost profits. The goal is to return the business to the economic position it would have been in without the hurricane. In other words, this coverage provide compensation for net profits that would have been generated before taxes.
- Extra Expense Loss: This coverage provides compensation for costs that would not have been incurred without damage to the property from the covered peril during the period of restoration. These expenses might include the cost of leasing an alternate facility, relocation of business equipment and similar expenses.
- Extended Business Loss: This form of coverage extends the period of restoration until the business has fully recovered rather than the point at which the business again opens its doors.
This is hardly an exhaustive list for safeguarding your business during a hurricane. The specific precautions that are appropriate for your situation will depend on the nature of your facility and property. The point to take away from these suggestion is that small business owners can mitigate losses by preparing for hurricanes and other disasters before they occur.
While you can pursue a claim with your insurance company for damage to your business facility, property inside the facility and business interruption losses, insurance companies often deny, delay or underpay such claims. If you can mitigate your losses before a hurricane occurs, this will leave you in a better position if your insurance company drags its feet in fulfilling its contractual obligations. If you cannot get satisfaction from you insurance company, you might want to obtain legal advice from an experienced Florida business insurance claims attorney.
If you have questions about your business insurance claim, experienced Florida business insurance attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo can analyze your situation and advise you of your options. Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles disputed claims in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.