As bushfire season takes its toll across Australia, it’s not only homeowners who need to brace themselves against the ravages of fire. Business owners also need protection against bushfire disasters, because without the right type of insurance, recovering from the devastation wrought by bushfires may ruin your business.
This year we have seen unseasonably dry and warm conditions, increasing the potential for bushfires in Queensland and NSW, but also across most major residential areas (including Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT). With higher than normal fire dangers in Australia and large tracts of land suffering either drought or reduced rainfall, it’s predicted that the fire season in South Australia and Queensland will start earlier and be longer than normal.
The Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC (BNHCRC) recently predicted that the bushfire season may be worse than usual this summer, however they also state that many people in high risk areas remain unprepared. With the fifth driest start to the year on record, warmer than normal temperatures and some areas in their third year of dry conditions, the BNHCRC predicts an early start to the fire season and an elevated risk of bushfires.
Is your business in a high risk area?
The first step in protecting your business from bushfires is to know whether you are located in a high risk area (WA, NSW, QLD, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania) and the second is to understand the warning system for your area, familiarising yourself with the different risk levels and when an evacuation is necessary.
This information needs to be disseminated to your senior staff, as well as your employees, so that if you are not present when a bushfire is imminent, your staff are aware of these warning systems. You will also need to develop an emergency response plan for your employees, so that they know what to do in the event of a bushfire, as everyone will need to understand their roles and responsibilities. Once developed, you will need to test your plan to ensure that it actually works.
Mitigating damage by bushfires
One of the best ways to protect your business from the damage caused by bushfires is to ensure that all preventative measures are in place. So a sensible solution is to hire a bushfire mitigation specialist who can assess your buildings and infrastructure and advise you on the correct measures to protect your buildings. Another important strategy is to digitally backup or save all hard copy data and documents to the cloud for safe keeping, ensuring that these backups occur on a regular basis.
Another strategy is to keep an up-to-date valuation of your equipment, furniture and other assets, as this will help to hasten any insurance claims. Finally, a business continuity plan is essential to enable the ongoing operation of your business, before and during the recovery process. The complexity of this plan will depend on your business, however it generally includes a risk management plan, business impact analysis, incident response plan, response team, communications and contact lists, as well as a recovery plan for your business.
Assessing if your business is at risk this bushfire season and establishing an action plan to prepare for the worst case scenario will ensure that your business remains protected. Additionally, establishing suitable policies can help ease the damage caused by bushfires.
To decide what type of insurance policies are suitable for your business, contact your local insurance adviser today.
General Advice Warning
The information provided is to be regarded as general advice. Whilst we may have collected risk information, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. We recommend that you consider the suitability of this general advice, in respect of your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. You should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase this financial product.