Thursday, September 12, 2013

Developing a Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Businesses that are forced to close down following a disaster run the risk of never being able to open their doors again. While there’s no way to lower the risk of a natural disaster like a hurricane, there are critical measures that can be taken to protect your company’s bottom line from nature’s fury. A disaster plan and adequate insurance are keys to recovery.

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Large corporations often hire risk managers to handle this task and some companies hire consultants with expertise in disaster planning and recovery to assist them with their plans. But small businesses can do the analysis and planning on their own.


  • Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know whom to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to preserve life and limit property losses.
  • Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
  • Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses.Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
  • Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; place a notice in local newspapers.
  • Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
  • Human Resources. Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your shop or receive goods or services.
  • Physical Resources. Inspect your business’ plant(s) and assess the impact a disaster would have on facilities. Make sure your plans conform to local building code requirements.
  • Business Community. Even if your business escapes a disaster, there is still a risk that it could suffer significant losses due to the inability of suppliers to deliver goods or services or a reduction in customers. Businesses should communicate with their suppliers and markets (especially if they are selling to a business as a supplier) about their disaster preparedness and recovery plans, so that everyone is prepared.
  • Protect Your Building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
  • Keep Duplicate Records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up-to-date.
  • Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
  • Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors. Consider a reciprocity agreement with another business. Try to get an advance commitment from at least one contractor to respond to your needs.
  • Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer offsite backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet. 


Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.

New additions or improvements should also be reflected in your policy. This includes construction improvement to a property and the addition...

Friday, April 12, 2013

5 ways to prepare your business for tornado season...

Peak tornado season runs from mid-spring through early summer and, if a tornado strikes near your business, you need to react quickly. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a severe weather plan and safe areas for your employees. Follow these steps to get your company and employees ready for storm season:

1. Determine how much space you’ll require. 
You should have enough safe areas to fit all employees and any guests who may be in the building at the time of a tornado. Use the following guidelines from FEMA for how much space you need:

  •  Occupants (standing and seated): 5 square feet per person

  •  Wheelchair users: 10 square feet per person

2. Walk through your building to identify the safest areas
. The basement typically is best. If your building doesn’t have a basement, select an area on the lowest level. Ideally, this space should be a small interior room or corridor. Avoid areas with windows and rooms with high ceilings or outside walls — these are more likely to be damaged during a storm.

3. Assess the exterior of the building
. Look for trees, poles, and other items that could fall or hit the building. Don’t choose safe areas near these hazards.

4. Hold tornado drills often
. Employees in all parts of the building should know where to go and practice the paths to get there.

5. Monitor the weather
. A tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado and there is a high probability of one in the surrounding area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted in your county, or one is moving toward your area. It also could signify that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado.

Someone in your building should have access to a weather radio to listen for severe weather alerts. They also should monitor local radar information if a watch or warning has been issued and provide alerts and/or directions to employees.

For more information, visit or

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reduce Work Comp costs with a proactive approach to treating injuries

When injuries happen on the job, they can turn into expensive claims, ultimately driving an employer’s Work Comp insurance premiums higher. There are, however, ways to keep costs in check. The key is taking action before non-emergency work injuries become insurance claims.

Value-added features offered by select insurance companies, such as SECURA’s Nurse Hotline, connect employees hurt on the job with registered nurses via a 24-hour phone line. The goal of the service is to provide workers with immediate answers to the best way to treat their non-emergency injuries. These minor strains, sprains, and such respond well to simple treatments. That means no visit to the ER or a battery of expensive diagnostic tests.

The rewards of Nurse Hotline extend to both employers and employees.

Benefits to the employer
• Reduced claims. Many injuries reported to the hotline can be
  treated simply with self-care methods. That translates into no
  hospital visit and no claim.

• Reduced costs. When claims are reduced in both number and
  size, premiums typically follow. 

• Reduced lost time. When injuries are treated immediately, workers stay at work or return to work sooner.
• Expert guidance. Highly skilled medical professionals are providing answers. No more supervisor judgment
  calls or overtreating injuries.

    Benefits to the employee
    • Instant care. Injured employees get sound medical guidance immediately.
    • No stress. A skilled independent medical professional advises employees on treatment.
    • A true benefit. Employees will see such a hotline as an extension of the benefits package a company offers.

      A proactive approach focusing on early assessment of work injuries can have a significant impact on reducing a company’s insurance claims. However, in order to reap the benefits, organizations must be partnered with insurance providers that offer them access to these value-added features, and employees must use them.

      For more information about the benefits of Nurse Hotline, view a short video.