Harvey. Irma. Maria. These few names strike dread into the hearts of civilians and business owners alike. 2017’s hurricane season was both deadly and destructive, taking hundreds of lives and totaling nearly three hundred billion dollars in damages. Every year, many more unnamed natural disasters sweep through cities and states, bringing with them pain and confusion.  

After the tragedy strikes, it’s often painfully too late to begin planning how to protect your business — The time to plan and prepare is when skies are blue and the air is calm. As a business owner, you’ll want to take special care to protect your company and assets in the event of a natural disaster, to keep your business from facing physical or financial ruin.

Is Your Business Protected When Natural Disasters Strike

Here are things to consider to ensure your business is protected:

Protect employees

The safety of your employees should be at the top of your list while planning for worst-case scenarios. Consider the following when preparing for a natural disaster:

  • Plan evacuation routes and exits and mark them clearly.
  • Practice regular emergency drills so employees know what to do in the event of a natural emergency.
  • Establish adequate places of shelter in your facility and ensure they are kept clear of clutter or large objects.

Secure assets

Damage from a natural disaster could set you back tens of thousands of dollars. 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster, according to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Even just a few inches of water can rack up a flood insurance claim of more than $89,000, FEMA reports.

Protect your assets in ways that won’t leave you vulnerable:

  • Invest in business insurance and understand what it covers. Some insurance policies will only cover their clients for actual physical damages to their company property; others will also offer a business interruption component which will reimburse you for lost income you may have generated in the days, following a natural calamity. Commercial flood insurance, which insures you for more than just flooding due to heavy rains, may be the protection you need. Carefully consider what is best for your business to make sure you’re fully covered.
  • Backup your data. If you haven’t yet, go paperless. Loss of documents or information can be a nightmare completely avoided by regularly copying them to the cloud. External drives can be damaged or lost to a disaster as easily as the physical documents copied to them.
  • Document physical assets by simply taking photos of what you have in your office or warehouse. Doing so can help you get the right reimbursement from your insurer.   

Develop a recovery plan

Figure out how to operate your business on an emergency basis:

  • Begin to set aside reserve funds that are to be allocated only in case of emergency, whether that be to pay employees or to keep other elements of your business running.
  • Determine how your clients or customers will be notified of potential delays and who will respond to client communications.
  • Follow up with your insurer for the process of receiving coverage for damages and losses.

Don’t be left high and dry when disaster strikes—understand your options and plan now for the worst. Doing so could mean the difference between a completely gutted business and one kept well afloat.