Restoring Your Business After a Hurricane
In addition to the potentially catastrophic damage wreaked by a hurricane, businesses face an additional peril: loss of business. A hurricane can keep businesses closed for weeks during the cleanup and repair process. Even in the event of mild damage, there may be no power for extended periods of time. What can you do to ensure that your business can reopen as soon as possible?
Can Your Business Survive a Hurricane?
One advantage to living in a hurricane-prone area like Florida is that hurricanes are expected, they come around the same time every year, and can be tracked, unlike other types of disasters, which may be complete surprises. It’s easier to have a plan for a hurricane and to prepare for its arrival. For businesses, this includes having a business plan for financial losses not only from the cost of repair but also from being closed during the hurricane and its aftermath.
Calculate potential lost revenues and an estimated cost for repair in the worst case scenario to determine what you would need to survive the worst. Then, determine alternate strategies that will allow your business to survive during the recovery period after a hurricane. All businesses in the area will suffer losses during that time and some may close, but you can increase your chances of reopening quickly afterward by having a solid plan.
Have a Recovery Plan
In addition to having a business plan to deal with any revenue losses incurred during a hurricane, it’s equally important to have a recovery plan. Knowing exactly what to do after a hurricane hits can mitigate potential losses and help you reopen your business sooner.
File an Insurance Claim
As with any property damage, the first step after a hurricane is to determine the extent of the damage and file a claim with your insurance company. Document all damage and property loss and take photographs and video as proof of the damage. This will make filing the claim easier and decrease the chances that your claim is denied.
Assess the Damage
The insurance company will assess the damage and the total amount that they will cover for replacement and repair. It is helpful to have an inventory of all property at the commercial location done before the hurricane so that the extent of property losses can more easily be determined. Also, it’s best to not attempt any repairs or cleanup until after the insurance company has processed the claim and assessed the damage. For any repairs that were essential to complete immediately, record any spending and keep any receipts. Contractors can also provide a damage assessment in order to prevent further immediate damage to the property.
Florida Commercial Restoration
Once the insurance claim has been filed, determine with your insurance company if you are responsible for hiring contractors, as some insurance companies may have contractors they will hire on your behalf as part of your claim. Also, determine what may be provided by the city or state government. Some locations provide free debris removal, for example.
Whether your insurance company covers all of the damage to your commercial property or not, it’s important not to attempt any repairs yourself unless you are licensed for that kind of repair. The damage from a hurricane is likely to be far worse than what’s normally possible to fix oneself and any attempted self-repair can cause further damage that would then not be covered by your insurance company. Contractors are available in Florida for every type of hurricane recovery service imaginable. Some companies offer multiple types of services while others specialize. These services can include:
- Storm debris cleanup
- Flood water removal
- Drying of carpet, furniture, drywall, etc.
- Water damage restoration
- Mold remediation
- Tree removal
- Roof repairs
- Temporary electric power
- Tarp and board services
Finding a Contractor
Some insurance companies may have contractors they already have relationships with that they can either recommend or can hire on your behalf, depending on your policy. These contractors must meet the insurance company’s qualifications for an approved contractor and will often be contractors that the companies have experience working with for repair and restoration. Even if your insurance company has a recommended contractor, you are not required to use that contractor, so it’s still recommended to research different contractors to ensure that you hire the best possible contractor for your needs.
Your hurricane recovery plan can include contractors that you know meet the necessary qualifications for the type of repair or restoration that you need. Knowing ahead of time who to call for damage assessment and repair can speed up the recovery process once the damage has occurred. Researching contractors ahead of time will also give you the time to do a thorough investigation of the following:
- How long the contractor has been in business
- Qualifications and licenses
- Quotes and estimates
Loans and Financial Services
Insurance companies generally pay contractors directly or provide you with the funds to pay them rather than reimbursing you after the fact. Despite this, there may still there may still be some out-of-pocket expenses, depending on the size of your insurance deductible. For situations like this, the Small Business Association provides Disaster Loan Assistance in the form of long-term, low-interest loans for all sizes of businesses. There are other companies, banks, and financial institutions both locally and nationally that may also provide financial assistance.