Bushfire Proofing Your Business: what you need to do right now to ensure commercial survival
Bushfires and the havoc they wreak are a sad fact of Australian life – both personally and in business.
A series of fires across NSW, VIC, SA and QLD during the 2019/2020 bushfire season saw the insurance industry declare a catastrophe. Around 38,416 claims were made and the total loss recorded was more than $2 billion.
As this year’s bushfire season approaches businesses need to prepare. Assessing your risks and putting plans in place now, will ensure business survival in the long run.
Follow this quick guide to ensuring you have your business bushfire-proofed this year.
Step 1: Get a clear picture of your business
It’s important to know how healthy your business is financially i.e. what you own and what you owe.
Creating a balance sheet that itemises your assets and liabilities will tell you how much money you need to run the everyday operations of your company, and how long it might take to repay any debt.
While it’s always important to have this information at your fingertips, it’s especially vital when a potential threat is looming i.e. bushfire season. Anything that could interrupt, stall or stop your daily operations can have a huge impact on the money you make, and if you can pay your bills.
Step 2: Assess and manage risk
Knowing what could threaten the success of your business, and then putting a plan in place to minimise that threat, is commercial common sense.
The right insurance cover, reliable cyber security systems and good health and safety standards are all part of good risk management.
In the case of bushfires, companies need to consider a variety of outcomes. Physical loss of inventory or premises. Loss of income due to a drop in operations. Risk of increased debts from outstanding bills.
Once you have identified where your business could be at risk, it’s worth analysing how likely those risks are to actually occur, and if they did, the level of damage they could cause. The higher the likelihood and level of damage, the more vital it is to take action to protect your business.
For help in creating a risk management plan for your business visit the Australian Government Business pages here.
Step 3: Back (up!) your business
Keeping track of files and documents, ensuring they’re safely stored then backing them up, can feel like a pain in your assistant’s in-tray.
But, having reliable and up-to-date records that tell you everything you need to know about your suppliers, bills and invoices is vital ̶ especially if a third-party questions it.
Being able to demonstrate financial health of your company to customers, lenders and insurers can help protect your business in times of upheaval, or if something unexpected happens.
Use the cloud or external hard drives to regularly backup your business data, and make sure you’re keeping records for the data retention period required for your industry. For more information on how to do this click here.
Step 4: Know your eligibility
If your business is in a fire affected area, or a high-risk region, there is a good chance you could be eligible for assistance from the government.
There are grants, loans, extensions and guides to helping your business recover – including aspects such as caring for the mental well being of you and your staff – specifically tailored for professionals affected by bushfires.
If you were affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire season, click here to find out if you’re eligible to apply for a grant or loan, and to learn more about the government’s new $650 million recovery package.
Step 5: Talk to us about getting the right insurance, for the best protection
With the help of your balance sheet, your risk management plan and your backed-up records, you can get a clear picture of the level of coverage you need in order to financially protect your business.
It’s important that you understand any exclusions on your policies, plus all terms and conditions relating to bushfires and fire, which may be defined differently by insurers.
Allowing a broker or advisor to assess the type of cover most beneficial to your business removes the risk that you won’t be adequately protected. We can also help with the assessment of assets and liabilities to ensure all business bases are covered.
Bushfires are a terrible reality, but they don’t have to destroy your business. Plan, prepare and protect your company so that you, your staff and your business can continue to thrive.