2017 has been one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, particularly since the destructive 2005 hurricane season with Katrina. The United States and Puerto Rico have seen widespread devastation from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria which all happened within the span of four weeks, and the hurricane season isn’t even close to being over yet.

Hurricanes cause massive disruption in a variety of ways like flooding, property damage, loss of electricity, business interruption, gas shortage and more. The aftermath of a hurricane can last anywhere from a couple of days to weeks or months, depending on the damage of your business.

These are issues any company might face after a hurricane, but as a warehouse, your issues are more unique. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind through the rest of the hurricane season.

  1. Understand your insurance policy. In the aftermath of Harvey, a lot of businesses and homeowners did not have the proper insurance coverage (like flood insurance). After a hurricane is the worst time to review your policy and realize it doesn't protect your warehouse for certain damage. Are you covered in the event of a flood? Are you covered for wind damage? Are you covered for business interruption? Fortunately many warehouses were not damaged in these hurricanes, but their ability to conduct business in the first few weeks, especially in the hardest hit areas, was effectively closed down.  You should have all of these policies in place in addition to your Warehouse Legal Liability Coverage. Carefully review your insurance policy with your broker to understand what is covered and what is not.
  2. Be flexible. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some of our clients saw their needs change dramatically, including types of products and a shift in their customer base. We had a client based in Dallas who turned its focus on getting products and supplies to Houston. Prior to, during, and in the aftermath of a hurricane, be flexible in how you approach the changing needs of your clients, customers, transportation and more.
  3. Be careful. In high stress and fast-pace environments, additional accidents can happen. Particularly in situations resulting from hurricanes, you could be short staffed due to factors beyond the control of your workers. Remind your warehouse workers to work at a safe pace to avoid potential accidents.
  4. Focus on what you do best. What your company is great at is navigating logistical challenges in the best way possible while getting them efficiently from point A to point B.  A natural disaster could actually be your moment to shine. While your products and customer base may change, your goal as a company does not. Stay grounded, stay focused and do what you do best.

We’ve already seen rapid change and pivots with warehouses in Texas and Florida and with hurricane season lasting until the end of November, it’s important to make sure your warehouse is prepared in the event of another major hurricane.

For more insights into risk exposures, and other areas impacting the insurance industry today, please follow or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

Eric Doll | Senior Vice President | edoll@venbrook.com | 951.318.7270

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