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Risk in Context

Eight Steps to Take Before a Storm Hits to Ensure Business Continuity

Posted by Chandra Seymour July 23, 2015

With the Atlantic hurricane season nearing its peak months, strengthening El Niño forces in the Pacific, and devastating typhoons confronting Asia, business continuity and crisis management plans will only be as good your last update and team capability.

The typhoons that recently ravaged Southeast Asia caused estimated economic losses of more than US$305 million in China, grounded hundreds of flights in South Korea and Okinawa, and closed the stock market and businesses in Taiwan.

History shows that August and September can be active months in the Atlantic. Take 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, causing more than $41 billion in insured property damage.

Meanwhile, companies with operations on the Pacific coast may need to brace for one of the strongest El Niño seasons in 50 years, which could bring the region mudslides and flash flooding.

Don’t Wait Until the Storm to Review Your Plans

Leading companies review and update their business continuity and crisis management plans annually and after any activation or major event  — regardless of how severe the impacts.

Here are eight steps you can take now to prepare for outages/surges, safeguard your supply chains, protect against physical damage to property and equipment, and address potential coverage issues — before the storm:

  1. Identify locations — your own, your customers, and your suppliers — that might be exposed to direct or indirect damage or affected by power outages/surges and other service interruptions.
  2. Identify and/or update lists of service providers and remediation companies that can support your recovery efforts.
  3. Determine how much you rely on supplies and suppliers and how delays might affect your ability to deliver products or services to market.
  4. Review and identify alternative sourcing arrangements.
  5. Ensure business continuity strategies are “implementable,” and identify how customer demands will be met.
  6. Educate employees on what they need to do to prepare their homes and how the company will communicate shutdowns, delays, and re-openings and how they should check in with their managers.
  7. Decide what is required to prepare your building and other physical assets and develop a corresponding checklist. For example, move equipment, tape windows, and tie down heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  8. Assess crisis management procedures and tiered-response actions as disruptions become more severe.

Trained teams and well-developed, actionable crisis management, business continuity, and hurricane preparedness plans can help you address operational issues that can be critical when filing insurance claims and in getting your business up and running faster. They can also help protect your employees, facilities, and reputation.   

Chandra Seymour

Senior Vice President, MRC Reputational Risk and Crisis Management