Winter snow is an inconvenience, and for small business owners, winter can be a catastrophe waiting to happen. Snow, freezing rain and sub-zero temperatures can wreak havoc on businesses, damaging property, down power lines and slowing foot traffic.
Thankfully, by following a few simple steps, business owners can avoid falling victim to Old Man Winter.
Get Familiar With Your Insurance Policy
Step one is to review your insurance coverage. Secure a copy of your policy for your records if you don’t have one. Small Business Trends spoke with Andy Wood, Executive Vice President of Retail Operations at Insureon, to get the lowdown on what needs to be done.
“At a minimum, you need to know what the policy number is and the claim number to call in the event of a disaster,” Wood says. “You should also have a sense of what your limits and deductibles are.”
Insure Your Business And Assets
A good commercial insurance policy is your best defense against nasty winter weather. Make sure you’re covered with a business owner’s policy, which combines general liability insurance and property damage coverage.
If a customer slips and falls on icy steps, or if your pipes freeze and rupture, you won’t be left with a hefty bill. Businesses with vehicles should look into commercial auto insurance policy. This type of policy will cover storm-related fender benders.
Look at Business Interruption Coverage
Insurance that protects your building and equipment is one thing. However, you need to be sure you can get money for expenses to tide you over should your business operations be interrupted.
If your policy provides business interruption coverage, you should look at the elimination period involved. That’s the period your business will need to cover out of pocket expenses before any insurance kicks in.
Inventory Valuable Equipment
It stands to reason that you want to be able to tell your insurance company what you lost in a winter disaster. Pictures of equipment stored on your smartphone are good. Even taking pictures of the outside of your business is a good way to make sure you have images of your building before and after any damage occurs.
Prepare Your Small Business Property
Remove snow and ice should be regularly from parking lots, entryways and sidewalks, and proper measures (like salting) should be done to help prevent slips and falls. Placing non-slip mats in front of entryways can help further prevent slipping as employees and customers enter and exit your business property.
Protect Your Workforce
Last, but not least – the most significant winter weather preparedness tip is to protect your most important asset: your workforce. If possible, close your office at a time that allows your employees ample opportunity to safely travel home, so they can secure their residence and prepare for a snow storm. Should a storm hit during non-business hours, making winter driving difficult and dangerous, offer the capability for your employees to work from home (if your type of business supports this) by allowing secure access to your business network.