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Catastrophe management: Protecting your people and business

How to protect people and property—and ensure business continuity—when disaster strikes

  1. Identify & Analyze

    Catastrophes can threaten business survival

  2. Evaluate & Implement

    Preparation, insurance help minimize impact

  3. Monitor & Adjust

    Testing plans key to catastrophe management

While large companies generally have the financial wherewithal and geographic diversity to withstand catastrophes, smaller and midsized businesses are more vulnerable to the potential for catastrophic economic losses when disaster strikes. And even though most companies have some awareness of the potential damage such catastrophes can cause to their operations, income and employee safety, few have effective crisis management plans. In addition, those that do have them rarely review them except when they are needed. Many small and midsized businesses are also often caught off guard because they don't buy adequate business insurance to reimburse them for such losses. ›› More


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, insurance coverage receded along the floodwaters, while prices surged. The insurance market's reaction to one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history taught valuable lessons about risk mitigation when adequate insurance coverage may not be available. ›› More


The extent of flooding and duration of service interruption following Hurricane Irene caught many small and midsize businesses in the Northeast off guard last year. Many of these businesses either didn’t have flood insurance or had limits on service interruption, ingress/egress or civil authority coverage in their business owners or commercial property insurance policies. ›› More


Even with insurance coverage, small and midsize businesses need to put emergency response and business continuity plans in place to mitigate financial loss from hurricanes. Such preparations are especially important when catastrophes cover a large geographic area, like Hurricane Irene, since it can take days or even weeks before insurance claims adjusters can reach affected properties. ›› More



Editor's Picks: Online Solutions & Resources

Information on recent disasters

The Insurance Information Institute’s “Disaster Newsroom” provides timely information, photographs and videos on disaster preparedness and insurance coverage to address both man-made and natural catastrophes, including terrorism,…


Risk managers and other experts agree that the best of all best practices for minimizing natural catastrophe and related human losses is this: Assess their impact well beforehand. In this article, those who have weathered catastrophes offer lessons they learned the hard way, providing insights and practical advice about the best steps to take to prepare your organization to handle a disaster. ›› More


Not all U.S. businesses are prepared to handle catastrophes even though a major disruption to their top revenue source could have a detrimental impact on business continuity. Experts advise businesses to perform regular training of staff to respond to incidents. ›› More


Even the best planning for natural disasters will not eliminate property losses and business disruptions, not to mention the possible loss of human life. When a catastrophe does hit and disaster plans are put into action, there are several key steps organizations can take to alert and protect staff and to keep the most vital aspects of their business up and running. ›› More


In addition to making sure their own operations can survive post-disaster, it is important for companies to consider how well prepared their suppliers and contractors are. ›› More


Businesses can't expect employees to come to work when they don't have a home themselves. Keeping employees safe and productive can be among the most complex aspects of catastrophe management. ›› More


In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, a company wages Herculean efforts to put the business back on track. The business continuity plan is in play, and the insurance claims process begins. Various best practices will help firms cope with the aftermath of a disaster and manage the insurance recovery process to maximize payouts for damage and lost business. ›› More


Hotels and motels have experienced some of the deadliest fires in U.S. history, along with disease outbreaks and natural catastrophes. The liability exposures created by such catastrophes makes the safety of guests and employees a high priority. ›› More


The displacement of workers that occurred after Hurricane Katrina flooded the Gulfport, Miss., facilities of Mississippi Power Co. prompted the utility to develop a contingency plan to ensure employees and their families are safe in a catastrophe. ›› More



Editor's Picks: Online Solutions & Resources

Catastrophe planning resources from FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Administration provides information on catastrophe planning, including mitigation best practices and case studies, communication guidelines, and what government resources are available to businesses both before…

Disaster planning tips and materials

The American Society of Safety Engineers offers hurricane season preparedness tips, a workplace emergency and crisis preparation checklist, as well as links to other resources to help businesses protect their employees, property and business…

Video explains contingent business interruption coverage

This YouTube video explains how contingent business interruption insurance can protect a business from disruption to operations when one of its suppliers is unable to provide necessary component parts, such as the situation that followed…

Info on business interruption, extra-expense coverages

The Insurance Information Institute offers information on business interruption and extra-expense insurance.

DHS advice on disaster preparation

The Department of Homeland Security’s “Ready Business” campaign is designed to educate and empower owners and managers of small- and midsized businesses to prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency.

Examining disaster recovery plans

Disaster Recovery.org provides free online templates for developing business continuity and disaster recovery plans, a list of disaster recovery and business continuity FAQs, case studies and other resources to help guide businesses through this…


The inability to communicate with employees and to access affected areas following Hurricane Katrina, coupled with the lack of sufficient rebuilding resources, demonstrates the need to establish and test business recovery plans well in advance of catastrophes. ›› More


The widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina caught communities and businesses off guard, requiring many to rethink and revamp their emergency response and business continuity plans. ›› More


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — It is a frightening prospect to consider that the physical and emotional damage done to St. John's Regional Medical Center and its staff by the massive tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., in May 2011 likely would have been far worse had it not been for the hospital's commitment to disaster preparedness. ›› More