Following the string of hurricanes that affected the area in 2016 and 2017, Bahamian businesses should have a recovery plan for their businesses after a natural disaster. Here are a few legal and practical suggestions for recovering from a natural disaster.
- Consult Your Insurance Policies
Do you know if your insurance policies cover natural disaster cleanup and recovery? Consult policy language or your insurance agent to determine if insurance will pay for property destroyed during a hurricane or flooding. Many insurance policies will not cover this situation. However, your policies may cover the cost of other services that will help your business get up and running again. Some companies have “business interruption” coverage for this type of situation. Consider increasing your insurance coverage for the future as well.
- Talk to Your Landlord
Who will pay for the costs of repairs to your business locations and offices? Check your leases and talk to your landlord. Leases may specify which types of repairs the tenant must make. Local landlord/tenant laws provide guidance when your lease is silent. For significant flooding, roof damage, or other major structural issues, the landlord likely is responsible. Ask for a timeline on getting repairs completed so that you know when you can resume operations. If the office needs significant repairs, consider relocating to a temporary office if possible.
- Notify Your Customers and Clients
Have you told your customers, clients, and employees that the business has been affected by the natural disaster? Give everyone a timeline for returning to business as usual. For clients with time-sensitive needs, determine if you can timely meet the needs and if not, figure out an alternative. Determine if local suppliers or contractors are similarly affected, and find out if you can get supplies from elsewhere. Last but not least, ensure that your employees and their families are safe. Do not endanger their safety by asking them to work during the storm.
- Safeguard Data
Was computer equipment or customer information destroyed in the storm? Hopefully you have backups of all your files. If not, reconstruct the files or consult a data recovery service. Consider if your business setup would allow employees to work remotely until the office is back to normal.
- Plan for the Future
Were there gaps in your disaster plan during the most recent disaster? Revise your plan for next time. Consider telephone chains for contacting employees, additional insurance, stockpiles of supplies, and an emergency plan for exiting or sheltering in your office building.
To find out more about business laws in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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