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Tips for resuming business operations after a natural disaster

Master the art of communication

It's important to communicate clearly and concisely to let everyone know the current status of your company and your plans for moving forward. The best way to ensure consistency of your message is to appoint one individual to communicate across all media platforms. Ideally, this message should come from top management.

Employees – 
Notify employees through emergency notification systems, social media, toll-free numbers and company websites about any changes in business hours or office relocations. Remember, depending on the type of disaster, i nternet and phone lines may be down, so the more ways you can get your message out, the better.

Customers - 
Even if none of your operations are affected, notify all customers of your status. This is especially important if your customer base covers a large geographic area, as some areas may be affected while others are not.

Suppliers and Vendors - 
Ask business partners for their flexibility and understanding after a disaster. They may be able to provide critical equipment or software  or be willing to set up alternative billing or delivery options until your business is back on its feet.

Government Agencies and Regulatory Authorities 
– You may need approvals for resuming occupancy or rebuilding after a disaster. You're not alone, so it's important to communicate regularly with state or municipal agencies to ensure your approvals are moving along.

Funding Sources 
– File any insurance claims immediately. If you are a Chubb policyholder, you can rest assured that our team will respond as quickly as possible so you can get back to your business. Email to begin the claims process. If you need funding, you may also want to contact your financial institution to activate a secured line of credit or to access an emergency fund.


Be safe, not sorry

Sometimes damage to a building may not be apparent. It's crucial to ensure your facility is structurally stable and devoid of hazardous conditions before employees or customers return. These simple steps can help you reopen for business.

  • Utilize professional engineers to validate the structural integrity of the building or facility.
  • Have electrical, computer and telecommunications systems inspected to ensure that there is no danger from water or other damage.
  • Check water supplies for contamination.
  • Make sure all hazardous materials are safely contained. If any have leaked or dispersed, specialized cleanup and disposal will be required.
  • Replace all filters on equipment to get rid of any dust, debris and chemicals that may clog ventilation systems.
  • Use qualified professionals for the inspection of elevators, fire and life safety systems.
  • Make sure cookware and kitchen utensils that have come into contact with floodwater receive special treatment.
  • Clean, examine and test safety devices and controls on all equipment and repair as needed.
  • If there was a power outage, investigate the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems before energizing and pressurizing them.
  • Get the building tested for asbestos or other chemical/toxic agents.
  • Ensure that all public or employee areas are well-lit and free of debris, water, dust or liquid spills.
  • Obtain any required approvals from public authorities.


Follow the road to re-occupancy

If your facility is not yet ready to occupy, these steps may help facilitate any repairs or reconstruction:

  • Identify current building code requirements including demolition and cleanup ordinances, fire protection and Americans with Disabilities Act or other legal or regulatory requirements.
  • Determine construction standards and obtain necessary permits.
  • Establish priorities at the designated restoration site by identifying critical business applications and processes needed to stay in business.
  • Document all damage including estimates or prices for repair/replacement and outline what is needed to resume operations.
  • Implement security procedures at the damaged facility to protect undamaged property. Ensure that access to the facility is controlled and protection systems have been reactivated and are operational.


Provide some human resources

Even though your building may pass all safety codes and your employees are physically able to return to work, disasters can take an emotional toll that may make it difficult to adjust. Here are some tips to help your employees cope with post-disaster stress:

  • Employees may be dealing with their own losses. Prepare for accommodations such as vans and carpooling, on-site day care and flexible scheduling to help.
  • Schedule regular meetings with employees to communicate progress on any restorations and reiterate overall corporate objectives.
  • Provide employee assistance services or engage a crisis management firm to help employees deal with stress.
  • If employees are helping with restorations, provide protective equipment such as eyewear, gloves, dust masks and respirators as needed and required.
  • If employees are assigned new tasks during the restoration process, make sure they have proper training and equipment.

All claims are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the relevant policy wording. Please read this information carefully before making a claim and/or contact your broker or Chubb representative.


This content is brought to you by Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited (“Chubb”) as a convenience to readers and is not intended to constitute advice (professional, financial or otherwise) or recommendations upon which a reader may rely. Any references to insurance cover are general in nature only and may not suit your particular circumstances. Chubb does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and any insurance cover referred to is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions set out in the relevant policy wording. Please obtain and read carefully the relevant insurance policy before deciding to acquire any insurance product. A policy wording can be obtained at through your broker or by contacting any of the Chubb offices. Chubb makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the content. Readers relying on any content do so at their own risk. It is the responsibility of the reader to evaluate the quality and accuracy of the content. Reference in this content (if any) to any specific commercial product, process, or service, and links from this content to other third party websites, do not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by Chubb and shall not be used for advertising or service/product endorsement purposes. ©2020 Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited Company No. 104656 FSP No. 35924. Chubb®, its logos, and Chubb.Insured.SM are protected trademarks of Chubb.

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