The United States has experienced its fair share of severe storms and natural disasters in recent years, impacting PMPs and customers alike. The property damage and destruction to homes and businesses due to hurricanes, flooding and wildfires have run into the billions of dollars.
No one has control over Mother Nature and her fury, but pest management professionals do have control over their own preparedness. Planning ahead and being proactive will allow business owners to avoid a costly disruption that could put them out of business.
IS IT COVERED? Kristina Phillips, CIC, CRM, area vice president of Gallagher, says many small business owners don’t fully understand what is and isn’t covered when their business activities are interrupted by a natural disaster.
“If a PMP can’t run their service routes due to a blizzard or wildfire that is not covered under typical insurance policies,” says Phillips. “They must have a direct physical loss to an insured location — a tree falling on a building, flood or fire damage — to make a claim. It can be very confusing.”
Phillips says business interruption insurance is available under certain property coverages, but that conversation must take place upfront with your insurance carrier, and owners must assign values to what a disruption would cost.
So, what do pest management professionals need to think of when assigning values? Phillips recommends considering the following:
- Will you need another location to operate from?
- Do you want to continue to pay employees if you are shut down for an extended period of time?
- Do you have back-up systems for your computers? Are the back-ups off-site, and will you need funds to secure these services?
- Do you maintain an updated inventory list of equipment and products? Do you have serial numbers for equipment? The more details you have — make, model and serial numbers — the easier it is to make a claim.
- Did you know that vehicles fall under your automobile policy, but the contents in those vehicles fall under your property coverage?
MAKING A CLAIM. Phillips says if you experience a total loss you must know what you have in order to make a claim and start the road back to rebuilding your operation. She adds that property claims typically take longer to settle than vehicle claims, and that a total loss could put you out of business for at least six months.
It is important for the owners and managers of pest control companies to have an open, ongoing dialogue with their insurance carrier well before they need to file a claim.
“Communication is the key,” says Phillips. “We want to help protect your assets and help you avoid paying higher premiums, but we can’t help insure what we don’t know you have. Let your carrier know about new purchases or changes to your operation that could impact their coverage.”
Regularly reviewing your insurance coverage with your carrier to make sure it meets the needs of your business and considering new coverages is also recommended. “Many business owners look at insurance as dollars out the door, and they need to better understand what their coverages offer and the benefits they provide,” says Phillips.
The author is a partner of B Communications. Email him at email@example.com.