10 Things You Can Do To Make Disaster Recovery Go More Smoothly
By definition, disasters are rarely tame or predictable, and few businesses are truly
prepared for the full extent and nature of a disaster when it does strike. While
recovery is never easy, there are a few key steps you can take before and after an
event to help make your insurance claim—which is, after all, the basis for your
financial recovery—go more smoothly.
Take photographs of property before a natural disaster occurs
Photographs will be important to prove the extent of your damages later. Take new photos every year, or after any development to the property.
Back up business-critical information
Make sure your business-critical client records
and communications systems are backed up off site so you can immediately retrieve key client information, financial documents, and sales histories.
This responsiveness can make or break your public relations and disaster recovery efforts.
Have a response team in place
Put a claim management team together before a disaster strikes and assign
a lead spokesperson in the event of a loss. Only an individual who is
knowledgeable in the area of insurance should handle interactions with
your carrier. This is essential, since the smallest comment can make a big
difference in how much money you recover.
Protect your property from further damage
It's your responsibility to perform emergency
work such as putting up tarps, removing wet
drywall and carpeting to prevent mold, and
boarding up openings and installing fencing
where necessary to protect your belongings
and keep others from getting hurt.
Beware of contractors asking you to sign a contract for non-emergency services
Ideally, you should not hire a contractor to
rebuild your business until you have agreed
on a repair/replacement scope of damage
and an estimate of pricing with your insurance
company. Then you will know how much you
have to spend on reconstruction.
Document the damage
Photograph or videotape the scene, including
the "debris pile," before you begin any cleanup
efforts. When estimating damages, do not
rely solely on your historical records. Instead,
secure replacement cost estimates.
Request a complete copy of your insurance policy
Read and make sure you understand your rights
and obligations under your insurance policy
before entering into any serious discussions
or negotiations with your carrier. Seek out a
professional to help you understand what your
policy actually covers and, just as important,
what it doesn't.
Document all your activities and expenses
Keep a log of all activities and save all receipts
after the damage, including those for property
replacement and extra expenses. This will
provide the documentation a disaster recovery
professional requires to present expenses to
your carrier, and you will know which expenses
will be reimbursed as you rebuild.
Make decisions that are best for the survival of your business
Policyholders often expect the insurance
company to tell them what to do to save their
business. Insurance company adjusters are
simply auditors of your property insurance
claim. Only you know your business and
what's best for your recovery.
Hire your own experts
The insurance adjuster sent by your carrier
to evaluate the damages is exclusively working
for the insurance company, not for you. It's
your responsibility to document and submit
your claim. Make sure you have someone
who knows insurance inside and out on your
side to ensure that you get a full, fair, and
expedited settlement—while you concentrate
on maintaining your operations, not on claim
details. Understand that your claim will have to