these types of exposures underscore the
need for businesses and organizations
to review and update their existing catastrophe plans.
Having responded to numerous
storms and natural disasters, loss adjusters and property claims professionals
can aid this planning process and share
important insights in how to mitigate
damage arising from future events. They
recognize no two events will ever be
alike and similarly, business needs and
objectives vary considerably. As a result,
catastrophe plans should be easy to understand and adaptable to any situation.
One way to approach the review and up-
date of an existing plan or the develop-
ment of a new plan is to think in terms
of three P’s — the plan, the process and
A catastrophe plan should be developed
well in advance of any occurrence with
ample time for testing, modification and
updates as needed. It should consider
specific risks and exposures unique to the
business. As a part of this process, busi-
ness owners are encouraged to review
their insurance program, ensure they un-
derstand the coverage that has been se-
cured, and how policies would respond in
the event of an accident. It is unfortunate
when businesses learn their coverage was
not as broad as intended, excluded cer-
tain risks believed to be covered, or does
not reflect the addition of a new location
on the property schedule.
Moreover, a catastrophe plan should
be well-written and document important elements of the plan including identification of emergency response team
members, communication procedures,
repair and recovery resources, and business continuity strategies. While such a
plan should be comprehensive in scope,
it should also be easy to grasp and actionable by others. During an actual crisis, there is little time to be read a plan
and reaction should be instinctive and
second nature. The expansiveness or
succinctness of the plan will vary among
organizations depending on each of their
needs and objectives. It is also important
that the plan remain fluid and flexible as
events vary and there will be exceptions
to every plan.
A catastrophe plan should contain
well-defined procedures and processes.
Business owners need to know how to
mitigate risks and protect property, and
a well-crafted plan will outline steps to
take before, during and after a loss event.
Effective plans often contain checklists,
protocols and procedures that are documented and easy to grasp.
A plan should also contain the contact
information of emergency response team
members, where to locate copies of insurance policies, procedures needed to file a
claim, and a listing of remediation, restoration and repair resources along with
any pre-established service agreements. It
can be helpful to identify equipment that
is needed to restore operations or an alternative location where business can be
conducted while repairs take place.
The value of establishing trusted relationships with quality providers prior to
a loss event cannot be overstated. Once a
disaster hits a particular area, many businesses scramble and compete for limited
resources to mitigate damage and restore