September is National Preparedness Month, providing an opportunity for agents to reflect on helping their clients be proactive.

OAA Prepares Its Members

Disaster planning is also an agency’s greatest defense in the event of an emergency though. Has your firm taken the necessary precautions to survive and succeed during a natural disaster?

“We have quite an extensive recovery plan that addresses all of the possible contingencies,” said Vaughn Graham, president of Rich and Cartmill, Inc. of Tulsa, Okla. “The truth of the matter is that the plan we have in place is an evolving plan that is changed and updated and [reviewed] periodically.”

Real Life Application

Graham recalls days before Christmas three years ago when an ice storm knocked out power to a quarter million Oklahomans for more than 10 days. Rich and Cartmill was out of power for 36 hours until brought back to life with generator services and facility trailers reserved from Agility, a company headquartered in Oklahoma that specializes in business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to small and midsized businesses.

“Since then we have installed generations at our Tulsa headquarters that [are] capable [of running] our agency management network,” Graham said. “Our preparedness plan was very successful, and we judge that by comments from our customers and the continued level of service that our customers expect from us.”

OAA's Disaster Recovery Plan

Agility recommends agents use a simplified approach to disaster recovery planning, according to Scott Teel, the company’s marketing director. Teel explains they have developed several tools to address disaster, including a 10-step checklist to preparedness:

  1. Assess your risk, both internally and externally.
  2. Assess your critical business functions.
  3. Prepare your supply chain.
  4. Create an emergency management plan.
  5. Back‐up your data.
  6. Create a crisis communication plan.
  7. Assemble an emergency kit.
  8. Review your insurance coverage.
  9. Plan for an alternate location.
  10. Test your plan.

“Taking one step at a time is all you have to do,” Teel says.

 

He recommends Prepare My Business, Ready.gov, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration—all government-oriented sites that address business preparedness. These sites provide downloadable PDF checklist resources that agents can email to customers or corporate clients.

“Every minute your operations are down, you’re losing money,” Teel says. “And every time a client loses money, that insurance firm increases their exposure. The more prepared the better.”

Loss of power, business blackouts and disturbed Internet and phone connections happen daily to businesses around the country. Graham said as he sees other Trusted Choice® agencies around the country deal with disasters of their own, he compares them to how they might affect his operations.

“In the event of a natural disaster, we provide availability,” Graham says. “We do our best to get our advice and council to our customers quickly.”

According to a press release, Agility is partnering with FEMA, the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps for National Preparedness Month throughout September.