Extreme weather and natural disasters are becoming more commonplace and can have financially debilitating effects on businesses that are not prepared. Take last year’s hurricane season for example. Damage caused by a series of storms, including Harvey, Maria and Irma, was the most expensive hurricane season in history, totaling $202.6 billion.
To reduce loss and mitigate risk associated with potentially crippling situations, agencies need to consider how to effectively support customers and manage operations during a disaster.
“Having a disaster plan in place improves the likelihood that businesses and organizations will not only survive and recover themselves, but also help their neighbors and communities recover more quickly.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), having a disaster plan in place “will improve the likelihood that businesses and organizations will not only survive and recover themselves, but also help their neighbors and communities recover more quickly.” Instituting a business continuity plan (BCP) minimizes the negative impact to a business by supporting its operational agility and financial stability during an unexpected and often uncontrollable event. It entails planning for the adoption of technology, tools and processes that enable an insurance agency to serve its customers at a time when they need it most. More specifically, a BCP allows a company’s management team and employees to prepare and respond effectively, including:
- Protecting critical and sensitive customer data
- Remaining operational and continuing to service customers
- Accessing policy and claims information 24/7
- Eliminating downtime that leads to loss of revenue
“75% of businesses that experience a significant disaster fail within six months.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Get Started Building Your Business Continuity Plan
It’s more important than ever for your organization to develop a business continuity plan and leverage technology to remain financially and operationally viable during a disaster. Your business cannot afford prolonged downtime. Statistics show that 75% of the businesses that experience a significant disaster fail within six months.
This checklist provides step-by-step instructions and the digital tools needed to build a successful business continuity plan:
Step 1: Make a plan
- Analyze possible threats to your business, i.e., fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, blizzard, tsunami, server crash, data breach, theft, human error, etc.
- Determine how your agency can and should respond to each threat listed.
- Identify specific situations that put disaster plans in motion when you are facing a threat.
- Create a “no warning” plan should disaster strike without warning.
- Involve your team in planning and communicate any updates to the plan as they happen.
Step 2: Protect your data in the cloud
- Host your management system and other applications in the cloud for optimal data protection and security.
- Convert paper files into electronic files when possible.
- Have one or more laptops set up to access your agency management system remotely.
- Consider purchasing a wireless hotspot to connect to the Internet through your cell phone provider should the Internet go down.
Step 3: Stay connected to your insurer partners with IVANS
- Quickly find and resend policies, claim details, and eDocs that have been downloaded in the past 90 days with IVANS Exchange™.
- Leverage claims download via IVANS to receive detailed claims information directly in your management system to stay up to date with the claim adjustment and settlement processes.
Step 4: Create a communications plan
- Communicate contact numbers and instructions for claims to your clients through your website and social media pages.
- Research and decide if text communication is right for your agency staff and clients. If so, collect cell phone numbers and look into mass texting options.
- Have a plan for telephone calls to be re-routed in case your phone lines are down. A third-party call center or another office outside the disaster zone should take emergency calls.
Always Be There for Your Customers
Agencies must be able to respond and provide information rapidly in order to stay competitive and serve as a trusted resource. Creating a business continuity plan helps reduce downtime and bolsters connectedness during events that could otherwise cripple the business. Leveraging IVANS solutions and cloud technology provides you with immediate access to claims and policy details so that you can proactively communicate with clients during their time of need.