Like most small business owners, your business is likely the main source of income you and your family have. Protecting that business has to be a priority. Fire is a devastating disaster that can hit any business. Preventing such a disaster from happening is only the first step. Being prepared for the aftermath of a fire is just as important as prevention.
Commercial fires happen for any number of reasons. Here are just a few of the causes found:
- Open flames used in welding or cooking
- Improper handling of flammable gases or combustible liquids
- Damaged electrical wiring or fixtures
- Use of faulty electrical equipment
- Overloaded electrical circuits
- Deep frying in pots on stove tops
- Improper disposal of materials susceptible to spontaneous combustion
- Accumulation of heat-producing organic materials like mulch or grain
The best way to prevent a fire damage from devastating your business is to identify potential fire hazards and take steps to prevent fire from occurring. This effort should be a part of a larger disaster preventing plan for your business.
- Identify and address potential fire hazards within your business.
- Call in a fire prevention expert to survey your business.
- Make sure no electrical circuit is overloaded.
- Don’t use extension cords.
- Have all electrical issues addressed promptly.
- If open flame is used within the business, take all necessary safety precautions.
- Store flammable or combustible materials in safe conditions.
- Have all chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned regularly.
Even with preventative measures, there is still a chance that your business could be devastated by a fire. You need to be prepared for this possibility by planning ahead and getting everything you need in order before a fire starts.
- Prepare a disaster recovery plan. This plan outlines what steps you will take in case of a disaster, like a fire.
- Take routine back-ups of critical business data and keep copies off-site.
- Store copies of key documents in an off-site location.
- Have adequate insurance in place.
- Keep emergency exits clear and easy to see.
- Clearly identify the locations of electrical, HVAC, gas, and water lines and shut-offs.
If your business gets hit with a fire, insurance is there to help set things right again.
- Have adequate property damage insurance coverage in place. You may have only a basic policy that you put in place years ago.
- Make sure your policy covers all of your business property. Some items, like electronics, vehicles, and high-value assets, may need a special rider or a separate policy.
- Add business interruption insurance to your insurance coverage. This kind of policy helps cover the costs of keeping the business running while your building is repaired or, in case of complete destruction, you can relocate to a new permanent location. Be sure you have enough of this kind of insurance to cover operating costs for several months.
- Ensure your business at its proper value. Don’t skimp on insurance coverage to try and get a lower premium. It is important to have coverage for replacement value, versus actual value also. Actual value policies only pay at the value of the property minus depreciation, leaving you to pay for the rest. Property damage insurance should cover the costs of rebuilding to current building codes.
- Review your insurance coverage every year to keep it current.
If a fire hits your business, your day-to-day operations will be disrupted. Part of your disaster recovery planning needs to cover how you will continue to operate the business, if a fire hits your building. Here are a few questions to get you started on your business continuity planning:
- Where will your business run from while your primary building is repaired or rebuilt?
- What are the mission critical functions within your business? How will they work after a disaster?
- What supplies and equipment will you need to get the business running again?
- What is the contact information for your key employees?
- Where are your data and document back-ups?
Once you have a business continuity plan, test it. Make sure it’s going to work if, and when, a disaster strikes.
Even with all the planning in the world, recovering after a fire is not easy. It requires taking immediate action to start the recovery process and sustained action to get the business back up to fully operational.
- Call your insurance company immediately.
- Call in a commercial fire and smoke damage restoration company.
- Secure the premises.
- Activate all disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
Your business does not have to be lost if a fire hits. Careful planning and adequate insurance coverage will help keep your business open while you recover. Don’t let a fire destroy everything you have worked to build.
Dealing with the insurance company can be difficult while trying to keep your business running properly. Let the experts at Commercial Claim Pro handle the negotiating and maximize your claim settlement. Get the help you need today and call them at (877) 877-6612.
Photo Ada Be | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0