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Disclaimer: Information in this article is observational in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for general safety recommendations such as from your local fire department. Information is also not intended to serve as legal advice, e.g., for adhering to workplace compliance requirements around safety. Please consult appropriate authorities and use the information in this article at your own risk.
Unexpected events like fires can be devastating for small business owners, but with the right preparation, the damage doesn’t necessarily have to be overwhelming. Yet there’s a lot that goes into preparing for disasters like fires. In addition to preparing in terms of physical safety, such as with having smoke detectors, sprinklers, proper fire exits, etc., there’s also a lot that needs to go into minimizing risk around areas like losing equipment or data.
For example, even if a fire quickly gets put out by sprinklers, the water could ruin computers, causing a small business owner to lose valuable information, let alone having to replace their IT equipment. Or, a fire may happen when no one is around, so while thankfully no one gets hurt, that could mean the small business owner is unable to use their store/office until damage from the fire gets prepared.
Insurance agents can play an important role in helping small businesses prepare for fires. While you may not necessarily be the right person to consult with for all the physical risks, you can often help in terms of preparing financially. Choosing the right insurance policy can help small business owners minimize the financial fallout from disasters like fires, and if an unfortunate event does occur, you can potentially help them get back on their feet faster, such as by helping them quickly process claims.
In this guide, we’ll explore several ways that insurance agents can help small businesses prepare for fires, both in terms of planning ahead and managing some of the fallout in the event a fire does occur.
Provide Clear Policy Options
Even with the fire safety measures a small business owner may take, it’s also important to prepare for what could happen if a fire still does occur. As such, small business owners will often want to consider different types of insurance coverage that can limit their financial risk.
However, financial risk can be a broad category. And there may be several different insurance policies you offer that can help, but small business owners may not necessarily understand the differences upfront, so they need you to walk them through their options.
Identify Current Risks
In order for small business owners to find the right policies to prepare for the risk of fires, they need to fully understand the different types of related risks they face. Insurance agents can help small businesses identify risks in areas like:
- Property: Fires may cause physical damage to property that small business owners need to account for the cost of repairing.
- Injury: If anyone is unfortunately hurt in a fire, that can also be a financial liability for small business owners.
- Data: A fire could lead to data loss, such as if a computer or file cabinets get damaged. Recovering this information could be possible, such as if they have their information backed up to an offsite data center, but this takes planning ahead.
- Business Interruption: Property damage could cause a small business to be unable to operate for a period of time, such as if they operate a storefront that can’t be used. As such, the business owner needs to prepare for the risk of not being able to earn revenue until the store is repaired.
Compare Different Types of Coverage
Based on the various risks a small business owner may face, and the severity specific to their business, an insurance agent can help explain how different types of coverage may help. In some cases, a business owner may be comfortable with, say, a low-level property insurance policy. In other cases, however, a business owner may want more comprehensive coverage, such as a business owner’s policy that combines property and general liability coverage.
Insurance agents should carefully walk small business owners through these different options, in terms of areas like the type of policy, policy limits and policy costs.
Plan Ahead for Fires
In addition to preparing for fires financially by considering different types of risks and policies that may help, small business owners can also plan ahead for what to do in the event a fire does actually occur. This preparation can be both safety-oriented as well as financially oriented in terms of handling insurance claims.
Provide Emergency Preparedness Resources
While insurance agents aren’t necessarily the best resources for safety preparedness, you may be able to at least point small business owners in the right direction. For example, if your local fire department has a fire safety checklist, you might want to share that with small business owners in your area. Insurance agents also might want to suggest resources such as:
- Alarm companies that can help with fire detection and/or response
- Phone numbers for local fire safety resources
- Companies that help small businesses develop emergency response plans
- Websites that detail important documents to back up in an offsite location
Walk Clients Through Claims
In the event a fire does occur and causes damage, a small business owner will want to get their claims processed as soon as possible so that they get back on their feet. As such, the ideal time to learn what to do to submit a claim isn’t when a fire does occur.
Instead, insurance agents should offer to walk small business owners through the claims process ahead of time, such as by providing a step-by-step list when onboarding a new client. Doing so can create a strong customer experience while helping that business owner have a better idea of what to do if and when they do face a disaster like a fire.
Be an Efficient Resource for Clients
Preparing for fires can be a bit stressful and confusing for small business owners, so it helps to have a partner like an insurance agent that can help create a smooth process. From the initial stages of providing different policy options to processing claims if a fire does happen, insurance agents should aim to be efficient throughout.
That doesn’t mean insurance agents should rush the process — small business owners may want to take their time discussing policy options — but you don’t want to be the one that slows them down. So, making the policy purchasing process easy, for example, can help you seem like an efficient resource for clients. Once a business owner identifies their risk, if they can then compare policy quotes online, without necessarily needing to wait for you to generate quotes, then that creates a good experience for clients.
Using InsurTech tools like Wheelhouse can help in this regard. InsurTech tools that can speed up the claims process can also be valuable, as clients may need to submit a claim at a time when you’re unavailable. By providing this type of efficiency, you can keep clients coming back to you year after year because even though a fire can be difficult to deal with, they’ll appreciate how easy it is to work with you to get through a tough event like that.