Businesses should make sure they are prepared both before and after a storm. These pre- and post-storm checklists cover some key tasks and issues to consider to help ensure hurricane preparedness.
1. Know your coverages
- Do you have the requisite property damage coverage for your business? What about business interruption and extra expense coverage?
- Are there problematic exclusions in your property policy?
- If you have multiple locations, are they correctly listed on the policy?
- How is occurrence defined? Does the definition address named storms that may impact a larger area over a longer period of time?
2. Prepare for business income loss
- Does your business keep track of its profits, losses and day-to-day dealings in a manner that can be reported to an insurance company?
- Does the policy provide coverage for fees incurred to hire a forensic accountant to quantify your business interruption loss?
3. Protect against hurricanes
- Does your building (or buildings) have the appropriate hurricane protections, such as hurricane-proof windows?
- Do you have materials on-hand to fortify against a storm, or a plan for how to obtain what may be scarce supplies as a disaster approaches?
- Does your building have a hurricane mitigation plan?
1. Gather insurance policies and related insurance records. If your policy was destroyed or is lost, contact your insurance company or agent/broker to request a copy.
2. Contact other business partners who may have copies of your insurance policies and records, such as attorneys and accountants.
3. Give written notice to your broker and insurer immediately. Notice should provide the following basic information:
- Name and address of insured
- Location of loss
- Date and time of loss
- Contact name, phone and fax number
- Brief description of the loss
4. Acquire copies of police or fire reports from your local police or fire department, if applicable. If individuals caused damage to the premises or stole anything in the wake of the disaster, obtain a separate police report about the damage or losses or request that additional information be added to the initial report.
5. Secure vital records and ledgers. Ensure that your accounting department opens a separate general ledger for hurricane-related expenses.
6. Collect photos or videos as proof of damage. Ensure these are taken before any mitigations are implemented so that they accurately capture the aftermath and losses.
7. To the extent possible, take steps to mitigate any further damage once the storm has passed.
8. If you have not already, retain a forensic accountant to begin preparing your business income and extra expense loss calculations.
9. Prepare a proof of loss. A proof of loss provides details identifying the property destroyed or damaged, and documents the amount of loss incurred. Generally, any information substantiating the claim can become part of your proof of claim, including photos, videos, receipts and records. Check with your insurer for the specific information required as some companies may ask for a detailed list of documents or require you to fill out a specific proof of loss form.
10. Submit proof of loss, photos, and reports to your insurer. Be sure to check any time limitations on the submission of a proof of loss and request an extension, if needed.
11. Assist with the insurance company’s investigation. Property policies typically allow the insurer to conduct a reasonable investigation of the claim and require the insured’s cooperation. This may be in a provision titled “Duties in the Event of Loss” that allows the insurer to interview the policyholder claimants in a process called an “examination under oath.” The policy may also require the insured to exhibit the property, take reasonable steps to protect it, and generally cooperate with the insurer’s investigation. The insurer’s requests for information must typically be considered reasonable, however. A policyholder’s failure to reasonably cooperate could be used by the insurer as a defense to coverage.