A Quick Guide To Insurance

Emotional Roller Coaster

If an event is serious enough to warrant an insurance claim, it will have a psychological impact on you and your employees. Dealing with your staff's problems is every bit as important as dealing with your insurance company.

"Grieving the loss caused by a disaster is a natural process, and to ignore that can have a negative impact on your recovery," says Jennell Evans, vice president of Strategic Interactions Inc., an organizational development firm in Vienna, Virginia. "While you have to attend to the business side of rebuilding, you also have to attend to the emotional functions of the group."

To do that, Evans advises, talk about the future and communicate the status of the recovery. If your employees' jobs are secure, they need to know that; if the future looks shaky, they have a right to know that, too.

Ron Ellman's experience supports Evans' position. Ellman is president of Ellman Batteries and Power Systems Inc., an industrial battery distributor in Orlando, Florida. In 1983, an electrical fire destroyed his former business. While insurance covered the building and its contents, replaced lost income and paid for other recovery efforts, Ellman was so devastated that he neglected his business, and two years later, it failed. "When [there's] a catastrophe, your employees will be as affected as you are," Ellman says. "I lost track of what was going on, and that crippled us."

If you're so distressed you don't feel capable of handling a crisis, consider bringing someone in to help with trauma counseling. Some insurance policies will pay for what Evans calls "critical incident debriefing."

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Quick Guide To Insurance.

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