To date, Jewelers Mutual has paid more than $5 million in claims losses due to hurricanes in 2005. Reports indicate that the 2006 hurricane season may be every bit as volatile. “We’re ready,” said Jeff Mills, vice president of Commercial Lines Operations.
Following a number of significant hurricanes in 2004, Jewelers Mutual was made aware of the urgent need to provide jewelers with training on how to deal with a hurricane. Last year, the company published its Hurricane Preparedness Guide, outlining what to do when facing a hurricane, how to protect merchandise and property, how to prepare a business continuity plan, how to file a claim, and other key issues. The company sent the guide to policyholders in hurricane-prone states and posted an online version on its Web site (www.jewelersmutual.com), which has since been downloaded more than 4,000 times.
This year, the message to policyholders is much the same: “Jewelers need to have a continuity plan in place,” urged Mills. “I can’t emphasize this enough. Refer to our hurricane preparedness guide. It gives you step-by-step instructions.” Also, Jewelers Mutual has added a downloadable continuity plan template to its Web site.
With hurricane season having started Thursday, JM encourages businesses to begin planning now.
To get started, JM said consider the following essentials of a continuity plan:
* Contacts lists of employees, vendors, and official emergency centers
* Current income tax records, including tax returns for the two last years
* Monthly or quarterly sales tax returns for at least the last two years
* Sales records for at least the last two years, with separate records for every location affected
* Employee payroll
* Copy of lease agreement and landlord contact information
* Insurance information
* Financial and accounting information
JM says to keep copies of this information both on and offsite. Additionally, it suggests keeping the following emergency equipment on hand:
* Generators or other means of emergency power (test regularly)
* Battery-powered radio
* Extra batteries
* Fire protection equipment
* Emergency communications equipment, including a fully-charged cell phone
* First-aid kit for documentation purposes, keep a camera on hand to photograph property
before and after.