The closure of manufacturing plants, restaurants, retail establishments and other places of business to limit the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in significant business interruption losses. Here are some ways to mitigate those interruptions whenever possible:
- Check Insurance Policies
- Have an Emergency Response Plan
- Protect Idle Property
- Implement Cybersecurity Measures
1. Insurance policies
Checking your insurance coverage should be priority number one. The most relevant policies to check for during the coronavirus include:
- Business interruption coverage – to manage against unforeseen effects on your business.
- Portable equipment coverage – for any items your employees need to take home to work.
- Contents insurance – while the office is empty, there’s a higher security risk and potential for burglaries.
- Credit insurance – although less common these days, it helps protect against the eventuality that customers who owe money for products or services do not pay their debts, or who pay them later than agreed.
2. Emergency response plan
Emergency response or contingency plans are key to reducing your exposure to a liability or property claim during a pandemic. If you have an emergency response plan and a business continuity plan, there may be simple changes you can make to reflect recommendations on how your business can respond to COVID-19.
We recommend that you review two specific sections of your emergency plan: your company’s approach to cybersecurity and the steps you have in place to protect your property.
If you don’t already have a plan in place, here are some resources you can consult for guidance:
In general, a strong emergency response plan will
- Identify and analyze possible exposures to risk, including how a pandemic or any other major adverse situation could impact your business.
- Document a response procedure to manage these risks that reflects international, national and regional standards.
3. Idle property
How can I make sure my business property is protected?
When commercial properties are left idle, they face a different set of exposures different to when the business is operating normally. There are many things that business owners and site managers can do to keep their properties safe and secure during the COVID-19 shutdown.
- First, inform your insurance broker of the situation. Your broker can provide guidelines in order to safeguard your property (for more information, see our safety tips on theft, vacant and idle properties).
- Consult a specialist before shutting down production or support equipment to make sure that the proper steps are taken.
- Continue preventive maintenance activities for your building and its components according to schedule. If access to your facility is restricted, only continue urgent repairs.
- Ensure mechanical components, such as elevators, receive essential servicing by monitoring them remotely or conducting periodic on-site assessments. This will help reduce the possibility of a loss of essential equipment following a prolonged period of inactivity.
- Monitor fire protection and burglary alarm notification systems. If these systems are not available, you may want to consider periodic on-site assessments.
- Ensure that all maintenance and service elements are taken care of so that the property is prepared for an extended shutdown. For example, set the temperature in the building to around 15C as this helps to prevent sprinkler systems and water pipes from freezing and bursting.
- If a property is vacated, or even just looks empty, it immediately becomes an easier target for vandals and thieves. To mitigate these risks, schedule regular visits and visual check-ups of the site whenever possible.
- Ensure that security devices, like locks and alarms, are operational, and those with human security patrols can up the frequency of visits to the property.
- Maintain appropriate lighting around the facility and especially around all entrances because it gives the impression somebody is overseeing the facility even if it’s closed.
- Conduct regular checks of their roofs, their downspouts, and any outdoor drains to ensure everything is properly maintained.
- Inform your business partners and clients of your decisions.
How can I prevent cargo losses?
The pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain. As a result, is has created a situation where cargo is being stored for long periods of time in unattended or improvised storage areas and increasing the likelihood of theft or vandalism.
To help you mitigate losses, we recommend the following control measures:
- Ensure the storage yard is fully secured using chain link fence and adequate lightning.
- Monitor site access at all times.
- Establish and implement a policy requiring permission for vehicle to leave the site.
- Limit access to the shipping paperwork.
More information: Preventing cargo losses
How can I protect my business and my employees working from home?
Because of the COVID-19, many businesses have employees working from home – some for the first time. Here are some tips to ensure that your business operations remain secure while your team works remotely.
- Keep up-to-date contact information (including personal and professional phone numbers and emails) for staff, partners, suppliers and the IT team responsible for your online properties.
- Identify the essential operations and services you want to keep running. For example, if you offer an online consulting service, what would you need to maintain a certain level of service with your team working from home? Consider key employees, computer and internet connectivity, phone lines, software, database accessibility, etc.
- For employees who work from home, assess their access needs on a case-by-case basis:
- Work with your IT professionals to secure who can access your network and encrypt confidential information
- Ask your employees to avoid working from unsecured public networks or enable a VPN option for remote network connection to avoid man-in-the-middle attacks
- Enforce a strong password policy and set an automatic inactivity logout
- Ensure endpoint protection for all devices (by installing firewalls, antivirus and security information, and event management (SIEM) software, and disabling USB ports, etc.)
- Provide cybersecurity training to all personnel and reinforce best practices often
- Back up data daily and create a physical backup if the information needs to be quickly retrieved and restored.
- Remind employees that they should not leave these laptops or other company material in the car or anywhere else that would increase the risk of theft.
- Ensure confidential data and intellectual property are adequately protected by different layers of security—this is not the time for a data breach.
What is phishing and how can I prevent it?
You should also remind your employees to be aware of phishing or fraudulent attempts to gain personal information by phone or email. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not click on any suspicious email attachments or give information to anyone. Common phishing emails often:
- Evoke a sense of urgency to act now
- Ask for sensitive information
- Request that you click on a link
- Come in the form of unexpected emails
- Include multiple people on the sender list
- Contain grammatical errors
- Have an uncommon file type or include suspicious attachments
Employees working from home should also be wary of unsolicited calls. If they didn’t initiate the call, they shouldn’t provide or confirm any information, including business addresses or phone numbers, account numbers, or any information about equipment in the office (such as the make or model of the printer, laptop, etc.).
Source: Intact Insurance