Protecting your computer equipment doesn't end with purchasing the proper insurance. Chateau Builders, for example, has put other lines of protection in place: It installed virus- detection software on all its computers to stop viruses before they can do any damage. It also asked its local utility company to assess the energy flow into the building to make sure there aren't any existing problems with the power supply that could wind up damaging its computer equipment.
One easy way to protect your business is to buy an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS protects data and computer equipment by switching to battery power if your power is interrupted by a power surge (a short-term increase in voltage), a power spike (a dramatic increase in voltage), a blackout or a brownout. American Power Conversion's Back-UPS Office ($199), for instance, has six outlets to guard several computers and fax modems from power surges and electrical failures.
Notebook computers, which are especially prone to theft on the road, should also be protected. Carry your computer in your briefcase or in a bag that isn't easily recognizable as a computer case. Be sure to use password or encryption programs to prevent access by unauthorized users. You may also want to buy a lock, such as Kensington Technology Group's Master Lock Universal Notebook Security Cable ($39.95), to keep your computer from being stolen.
Also be sure to regularly back up computer data. This includes backing up information from a notebook computer so there's an extra copy in case the computer is stolen. You can never be too careful about backing up data because what's stored on your computers is just as important to your business--if not more so--than the hardware's value. Once it's been backed up, be sure to remove the copy to an off-site location so it's protected from catastrophes.
Finally, after purchasing any computer equipment, keep a copy of the receipt or invoice in a safe place. You should also keep a detailed inventory of all your business equipment and know the proper procedures for filing a claim in the not-so-unlikely event that your computer equipment comes to harm and you need to collect.
American Power Conversion, http://www.apcc.com
Chateau Builders Inc., 8805 Columbia 100 Pkwy., Columbia, MD 21405, (410) 720-0400
Diversified Insurance Industries, 2 Hamill Rd., #155, Baltimore, MD 21210, (410) 433-3000
Insurance Information Institute, (800) 942-4242, http://www.iii.org
Kensington Technology Group, (800) 535-4242, http://www.kensington.com
Safeware Insurance Agency, 5760 N. High St., P.O. Box 656, Columbus, OH 43085, (800) 800-1492