No matter where you live, there is always the potential for some kind of natural disaster. In some parts of the United States there are hurricanes and tropical storms. In other areas there are droughts that pack the earth so tightly that a few inches of rain can cause severe flooding. Other areas are prone to fires and yet others suffer ice storms and blizzards during winter months. If your business has suffered damage after a natural disaster, one thing to be aware of is that some of the cleanup may involve chemicals or biohazards which can be life-threatening. Following are the steps you should take immediately following damage caused by a natural disaster.
1. Take a Quick and Safe Assessment
One thing to be aware of is that a building that has suffered severe damage is probably not safe to inspect any areas that were once interior sections. Even when evacuations have been lifted, you need to tread carefully. It would probably be in your best interests to contact a disaster cleanup team to do the initial assessment. This is especially important if you feel there are any biohazards that need to be safely removed and disposed of by a licensed disaster cleanup company.
2. Contact Employees
You should also contact any employees who would have cause to enter the grounds to explain the amount of damage and that it is not safe to be on the property. Talk to them about the cleanup crew that will be handling the removal of anything that poses a health or safety risk. At this point, you may or may not know if and when the doors can be open for business once again. However, tell them you will contact them as soon as you know when and where you will be conducting business from.
3. Report the Incident to Your Insurance Company
It is not advisable that you undertake any cleanup or repairs before an insurance adjuster can assess the damage. Your coverage depends on the extent and type of damage your business sustained, so you don’t want to make even the slightest repair which could invalidate part of your policy. In any case, it is your responsibility to report the damage and to file the claim.
4. Notify Customers and Suppliers
Unless all your records have been destroyed during the incident, you might want to contact key customers and suppliers to let them know you are unable to conduct business at this time. If you have business income insurance, those records will be vital to file a claim on lost income. You obviously can’t do business as usual if your facility is destroyed, so along with property insurance you can file a claim for lost income. Actually, that is probably a coverage you purchased as part of a multi-policy package that yielded a nice discount when purchased together.
Even if you have not been struck by a natural disaster in the part of the country where you live for many decades, it doesn’t mean that disaster won’t strike tomorrow. Always be ready with evacuation procedures, cleanup companies, insurance coverage and have a backup of all records. These would include customer and supplier files stored offsite, probably in the Cloud. You never know when disaster will strike, so always be prepared.
Interesting Related Article: “Disaster Recovery Strategy: 7 Key Steps to Creating a Plan for Your Business“