Unrest in Baltimore Highlights Need for Effective Planning
Recent events in Baltimore show how civil unrest can quickly develop in metropolitan areas, threatening people, property, and business operations. But you can help protect your business with a comprehensive crisis management plan and by reviewing insurance claims processes before an event.
The first step in creating a crisis management plan is to consider the safety of your employees as you seek to maintain normal business operations. Identify the critical functions needed to maintain operations. How will they affect customers, employees, and other stakeholders? Do these functions reside in an area that is likely to be affected by unrest? Will unrest in one area disrupt others?
It’s important to determine what can be done in advance. For example, should you halt operations or allow employees to work from home? Do you need to increase production, ship inventory early, or reroute deliveries? Do you need to relocate critical resources? When should these responses be triggered?
During a crisis, it’s important to communicate frequently with employees, keeping them informed about operational status and company actions. You should:
- Maintain complete contact information, including email and phone numbers.
- Monitor travel plans and ensure that employees can communicate changes.
- Remind crisis or senior management teams of their roles, response actions, and expectations if the situation changes.
Understand Insurance Policies
Before trouble starts, understand the full range of your insurance coverage, including policy limits and sublimits, deductibles, loss-reporting requirements, covered perils, exclusions, and any restrictions. Ensure that key records — including insurance policies, contact lists, and financial and property records — are accessible in hard copy and electronic formats locally and at alternative locations. And develop a claim-management plan that establishes clear responsibilities for your people, insurers, brokers, and other advisors.
If a loss occurs, maintain open lines of communication with insurers and claims advisors to support policy loss mitigation and notification terms. Start to gather data for a claim filing, including:
- Information about extra expenses, including temporary repairs and lost income.
- Photographic and/or video evidence of damage.
- Documentation of all communications from civil authorities, including about closures, restricted areas, and curfews that affect your operations. Document instances of physical damage that prevent access to your locations.
Taking these steps can help to minimize damage related to civil unrest and to more quickly return to normal business operations.