Natural Disasters: The Risks That Follow

By: | June 13, 2019

James Podesva leads global business operations in the U.S., UK, the Caribbean and South America for York's specialized loss adjusting (SLA) line of business.

It’s human nature to think, “That could never happen to me. To us. Here.” But with storm season in full swing, it’s more important than ever to consider those what-ifs: What if disaster does strike close to you?

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Fortunately, it’s also human nature to come together as a community after a catastrophe.

Nearly 10 months after Hurricane Michael — as Florida residents and businesses continue to rebuild — many are asking, “How can I be more prepared in the future for something so tragic?”

You may not be able to avoid a natural disaster, but with the right people and policies in place, the risks that follow have less of an impact.

According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. experienced $91 billion in losses associated with natural disasters in 2018 alone.

After Hurricane Michael hit back in October 2018, many of the community members impacted weren’t prepared for the significant risks that follow such a catastrophe. Aside from the physical damage to infrastructure, employers suffered from increased absenteeism as many employees were unable to return to work.

Some were relocated because of damage to their homes; others needed to recover from physical injury or the emotional stress of the storm. Organizations lost financial documents, medical records and critical data — leading to a decrease in revenue and increase in costs.

According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. experienced $91 billion in losses associated with natural disasters in 2018 alone.

Before a natural disaster occurs, it’s important to review the exposure of your business and have protective measures in place. But a disaster preparation plan goes beyond an evacuation route, a first-aid kit and a full pantry. An annual planning meeting will help you determine which items are most critical to protect.

Once you assess the risks specific to your organization, you can develop a communication plan and policies that work to mitigate them. By including a diverse group of employees, along with insurance agents, IT professionals and adjusters in on the conversation, you can gather the knowledge and insight you need to make the best decisions for your organization.

When a natural disaster does occur, it’s important for employers to know their employees are safe.

When a natural disaster does occur, it’s important for employers to know their employees are safe, have the resources they need, etc.

You may not all be under one roof when catastrophe strikes. By setting a meeting point far enough away from the storm path, you can ensure no one is left behind or without assistance. Predetermining a “hot site” away from your office location also provides a place of refuge to employees who typically work from home.

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Once you determine the status of the surrounding area, you may be able to continue to conduct business in the temporary office.

With escalating climate change, the rising likelihood of catastrophic weather events makes monitoring the impact of natural disasters a critical regulatory function.

Considering the “what-ifs” — and understanding how to change the potential outcomes — can bring peace of mind and clarity to both employers and their employees. With the right people and disaster preparation plan, organizations can recover and get back to work quicker.

No matter how prepared you think you are, you can never be too prepared for the unexpected. &

Risk Matrix: Presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]