Sep 22, 2011

Coping with an emergency

If the appalling footage of riots on the streets of England has taught the UK's businesses anything, it's that there ought to be robust emergency plans in place to cover any eventuality.

The unprecedented violence has caused millions of pounds' worth of damage, according to insurers and you can guarantee, sadly, that a fair few of those impacted won't have had the necessary precautions or cover in place to deal with the fall out.

Consequently, there is no better time to review the business insurance policy - or buy one, if no such insurance exists. Rioting aside, changes in the last decade have meant that the cover provided under some older, rolling policies may not be sufficient any longer.

It's definitely worth checking the small print to see whether you are covered for more recent issues, such as cyber crime, email abuse and even terrorism. No matter what industry your business is in, there will be a dedicated insurance package to meet your needs. Not having one is quite simply irresponsible.

Another essential tool is to create a business continuity plan, which is a document that describes what should happen in the event of an emergency. This is something that you will need to spend time putting together, in conjunction with other people from the business.

You need to decide what should happen for your business to operate as normal and how it can happen. For example, if you couldn't get into the building, is there somewhere else that staff could go? Or could they work from home? Is it vital that all staff work or just a handful of people?

As part of this plan, employers should hold an up to date contact list for all staff and their next of kin, so that they can be contacted if and when the situation requires. Periodically, a test should take place, to make sure that all staff can be reached. After all, the staff should be the number one priority.

There are many more steps businesses can take to protect themselves, but the above should help start the process.

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