Thanks to climate change, our weather patterns are becoming even more unpredictable, and summer is certainly no exception.
Erratic summer weather in 2022 wasn’t limited to our neck of the woods either. Nine inches of rain fell in a single day in St. Louis, Missouri, wildfires burned over 7.4 million acres of land across the country, and Hurricane Ian was the third-most destructive storm on record. Overall, there were 15 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the US alone.
So, how can we predict the weather that summer will bring 2023? The truth is we can’t.
Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to protect your business from summer weather and other man-made hazards that can reduce or eliminate your need to file a costly insurance claim.
Tip #1 – Assess Your Business Risks
According to a recent study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), three out of five small businesses experienced a rise in insurance premiums in 2022. Factors such as severe weather, the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chain issues created a tougher business operating environment. This trend is likely to continue.
To keep your insurance costs in check and ensure that you don’t have any coverage gaps you’re not aware of due to changing risk factors, reassess your business insurance coverage with one of our local agents.
Tip #2 – Plan for Your Risks Factors
Once you’ve identified your specific risk factors, create an action plan to mitigate those risks. This should be a written document that addresses the hazards you’ve identified and how to overcome them. You’ll also need to train your staff on what to do.
How will you protect your data in the event of a power outage?
Are you in a flood zone?
What if a tree falls on your building?
An action plan addressing your risks can dramatically reduce the stress and chaos of dealing with an emergency. It will also lower your risk profile in the eyes of your insurance provider, possibly resulting in lower insurance premiums.
Periodically review your action plan to ensure it remains accurate and relevant.
You’ll also want to practice proper record keeping, an essential risk management tool. Records should include employee training dates and topics, incidents and accidents, and policy updates. Taking photos and videos of your business can also help you prepare if you have to file an insurance claim.
Tip #3 – Prepare for Summer Weather
With the severity of summer weather increasing year over year, as a business owner, you need to take extra measures to protect your livelihood.
Business income interruption insurance can protect your income stream in the event of a disaster, but there are other ways to protect your business from severe weather before it happens.
Take the following precautions before a severe summer weather event strikes:
- Stay informed with local forecasts
- Secure windows and doors
- Move company vehicles to a garage and/or away from trees
- Bring outside furniture indoors
- Secure outside objects (grills, signs, umbrellas, etc.)
- Clean gutters and drains to ensure water flows away from your facility
- Check your roof for loose or missing materials that might be vulnerable to strong winds
- Locate and repair gaps or roof penetrations that can cause water damage
- Conduct landscaping to prevent trees or limbs from damaging your business
- Move boxes and equipment to an elevated area in case of flooding
- Fully charge electronic devices like flashlights, laptops, and phones
- Back up electronic files to a safe location
- Stock adequate emergency supplies
You can also use these emergency “toolkits” from Ready.gov to help protect your business from disasters such as hurricanes, severe winds, flooding, and more.
Finally, ensure you protect your most important asset—your people—by training them on emergency preparedness procedures.
Tip #4 – Fire Prevention
Fire departments respond to nearly 14,000 fire incidents in retail stores and commercial business properties annually. Don’t be one of those statistics.
If you rent or own business property, you risk losing your assets to a fire. Use a professional fire suppression company to:
- Test and inspect fire detection and suppression systems
- Inspect fire extinguishers
- Check emergency lighting
- Ensure exit signs are illuminated
- Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
It’s also a good idea to have your electrical system inspected, as well as train staff not to block exits and other egresses in the event of a fire.
Tip #5 – Protect Yourself from Crime
Crime typically rises during the summer, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s not just violent crimes like murders and assaults either. Non-violent property crimes such as burglary, theft, and vandalism also rise. In fact, burglary rates alone can increase by up to 11% during the summer months.
Criminals are often opportunists and can be tempted by businesses with little or no security. A restaurant door that is improperly secured, a retail business with no alarm system, or a fleet of vehicles in an open parking lot all make tempting targets for criminals looking for a quick score.
You can take the following measures to help protect your business and your employees:
- Install an alarm system
- Install cameras.
- Secure entry points such as doors, windows, and roof hatches.
- Use heavy-duty locks.
- Use a doorjamb reinforcement to prevent intruders from kicking open doors.
- Use metal or wood exterior doors in reinforced steel frames.
- Don’t use doors with hinge pins on the outside.
- Secure garage doors with padlocks on the roller channels.
- Keep track of keys.
- Install proper lighting.
- Evaluate landscaping features.
- Don’t keep large amounts of money on the premises.
- Use a safe.
- Perform background checks on prospective employees.
Tip #6 – Heat-Related Illness
The summer heat can be brutal, especially if you’re working outside. Landscapers, roofers, HVAC contractors, and other outdoor working professionals are at a high risk of suffering from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms can range from cramping to dehydration to even coma or death.
Luckily, you can take the following measures to keep yourself and your employees safe:
- Increase time spent outdoors gradually.
- Pace yourself with vigorous activity; don’t overdo it.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water and sports drinks during vigorous outdoor activities.
- Replace salt and minerals that are lost with heavy sweating.
- Avoid alcohol, sugary, and caffeinated beverages that can lead to dehydration.
- Dress in light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Mist yourself with a spray bottle of water to prevent overheating.
- Rest frequently in cool, shaded areas.
- Know the signs of heat-related illness.
For more information about heat-related illnesses, read this resource from John Hopkins Medicine.
Do you need more business insurance?
Are your summertime risk factors adequately covered under your existing business insurance policies?
Are there gaps you might not be aware of?
Contact us or find an agent near you today to learn how we can customize your business insurance policies to meet your needs.
*Disclaimer: We offer content for informational purposes; Co-Op Co-operative Insurance Companies may not provide all the services or products listed here. Please contact your local agent to learn more about how we can help with your insurance needs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness.
Climate.gov. 2021 U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in historical context.
Cranfill Sumner. Six Tips for Summer Accident and Disaster Preparedness.
Governing.com. Where Summer Crime Spikes the Most.
INSzone.com. Avoiding 4 Common Retail Business Insurance Claims.
Nerd Wallet. Uncover the Truth Behind Rising Business Insurance. Premiums
The Washington Post. The toll extreme weather took in the U.S. during 2022, by the numbers.
U.S. Department of Justice. Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends.
WBUR.com. ‘Flash droughts’ and weather ‘whiplash.’ Welcome to New England’s climate future.