The Worst That Could Happen

Insure & Create a Contigency Plan

Insure and Reassure

You probably don't need convincing. Everybody knows insurance is important, but do you have the right coverage? Don't do business without these:

  • Business interruption insurance: If your warehouse is insured, great, but if you're out of products for three months because of a fire, and insurance isn't paying your employees, then-well, do you really want to pay everybody out of your retirement fund?
  • Key employee insurance: You can get this for yourself, or for staff members who are important to running your business. If that employee dies-or if you die-the money will be there while a replacement is recruited and trained.

"Sure," the cynic might think, "and then after the disaster, the insurer will drop me." Maybe, but as one insurance expert told us: "Quite frankly, if we dropped everybody who had a loss, we would not have customers."

Do You Have a Contingency Plan?

Dave Bowe and Randy Uzzell at Crisis Management Worldwide specialize in contingency planning, a concept with which every entrepreneur should be intimately familiar. Some things you should do as part of planning for the worst:

  • Take a walk around your building. Determine where you're vulnerable, says Uzzell. "Ask yourself what's logical to prepare for," he adds. "Obviously, you're not going to spend much time preparing for the 100-year flood...unless it's been 99 years since the last 100-year flood."
  • Think about various potential scenarios. Try to conceive how you would handle them, and look for your weaknesses. Then devise plans of attack for each.
  • Develop a crisis communication team. Bowe advises that a core of your corps needs to know how to talk to the media. Take as many preventive measures as possible. That includes everything from backing up data on a computer and storing the information off-site to finding the right insurance to optimize your company's protection.

During the course of researching this article, a torrential downpour rocked Cincinnati. Geoff Williams' home office was flooded. He did have insurance. He can be reached at gwilliams1@cinci.rr.com.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the July 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Worst That Could Happen.

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