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How could insurance help if my business is damaged by severe weather?

Severe weather, such as floods and wildfires, can be costly. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, catastrophic events in 2016 (including the Fort McMurray wildfires) resulted in $4.9 billion in insured damages.When it comes to small businesses, damage from severe weather could not only damage the physical property of a business, but also, result in lost revenue. The right insurance can’t stop severe weather but it can play a part in getting owners back to business. Here are some business insurance coverages which could help small business owners handle the aftermath of severe weather.

Equipment breakdown insurance

From computers to air conditioners, small businesses rely on specific equipment for their operations. When severe weather strikes, business equipment could break or be permanently damaged. While dependent on the policy, equipment breakdown insurance could help with equipment replacement costs. A BrokerLink commercial insurance broker can help a small business owner understand what equipment would be covered by their equipment breakdown insurance.

Sewer backup insurance 

When water floods a main drainage system, such as a city sewer system, there could be flooding into commercial buildings or homes.  This poses a health risk because the water could contain sewage.  Sewer backup insurance could provide funds for repairs or replacing damaged belongings.

Business interruption insurance

When a small business can’t operate because of severe weather, they could lose money. If business operations have to stop due to repairs or because of damaged equipment, business interruption insurance could provide funds for lost income.

Contents insurance

In addition to equipment, small business owners also have “contents.” This could include office supplies and furniture. If severe weather impacts a small business owner’s contents, such as water damage from a flood, contents insurance could help with replacement costs.

Business property insurance

If severe weather damages the physical building where the small business owner has their operations (such as a rented space or owned building), business property insurance could help with repair or replacement costs.

Information to provide for a claim

If a small business owner needed to submit a claim because of severe weather, it’s important they contact their insurance provider or their BrokerLink commercial insurance broker. As part of submitting their claim, small business owners often have to provide the following details:

  • The type of damage and parts of the business which were damaged: understanding the type of damage which occurred (i.e., a flood) and what aspects of the small business were damaged (i.e., furniture) will help the insurance company determine the financial loss. This information would be used in the claims adjustment process in order to determine the amount to be paid by the company once the deductible (portion that is absorbed by the business owner) has been applied.
  • The date the incident occurred: small business owners need to report any claims as soon as possible. Timely claims will ensure the issue is quickly resolved and the state of the damage is reflected correctly. For example, if a business owner’s building flooded but the claim was reported one month later, it could be difficult to assess the extent of the damage.
  • Photos of the damage: photos will not only ensure the damage is documented, but help determine the degree of the damage.
  • Measures taken to repair the damage: if a small business owner has taken measures to temporarily repair damage from severe weather, it could reduce the amount of the loss. For example, if a small business owner experienced flooding and they filled a hole where the water came from, this could reduce the amount of water damage. As a result, this could reduce the amount of money they need for repairs, which could lead to a lesser amount that the insurance company will have to pay out.

Be prepared

While natural disasters are unpredictable, small business owners can take preventative measures. One measure is contacting their BrokerLink commercial insurance broker. Our brokers will review business owner’s current coverage and make suggestions for improvements.

“We also take the time to understand what’s important for the small business owner,” said Theresa Arsenault, commercial insurance manager. “This helps us find them the best insurance coverage.”

The right insurance can also complement an existing emergency plan. Check out our guide on how insurance can enhance a small business’ emergency response plan. Business owners can also learn about other coverages which could fit their business with our online assessment tool.