Munich Re reports that 2017 was the second most expensive year for natural disasters ever recorded, with overall global losses estimated at over $360B. For the U.S., last year’s severe storms resulted in a share of losses that was significantly higher (50%), than the long-term average (32%). A recently published Business Insurance special report cites estimates of insured losses of $15.4B–with $12B caused by inland flooding–stemming from Hurricane Harvey, alone.
Ernst Rauch, head of Munich Re’s Corporate Climate Center, holds that these patterns are likely to continue. “We have a new normal. 2017 was not an outlier.”
A quick look at the weather on the first day of Spring seems to underscore that point.
- Businesses in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast expect to be digging out from the fourth winter storm in 3 weeks.
- High winds and hail are causing damage across the Southeast.
- Flash flood watches have been issued by the NWS in parts of Southern California.
Is your business prepared for the “new normal”?
With large-scale natural disasters becoming increasingly common and more costly, a renewed focus on business continuity and disaster recovery is essential. Preparing for these events, along with the ability to rebound from them, are a factor on which businesses must now be able to compete.
Even so, a Travelers study found that 48% of small businesses are operating without a business continuity plan. 95% of those respondents said they still felt prepared. These numbers are alarming given the fact that, according to the Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety (IBHS), 25% of businesses do not reopen following a major event.
While larger organizations have resources devoted entirely to business continuity and disaster recovery, for many companies, this critical role falls to the risk management department. This typically involves overseeing the development, implementation, and ongoing administration of a plan that:
- Accurately assesses the potential impact of weather-related events on the business’s facilities, fleet vehicles, and other assets
- Ensures maintenance is performed, or other actions taken, that can help prevent or minimize damage likely to result from severe weather
- Provides for communication with key stakeholders before, during, and after severe weather events
Completing these tasks can be a challenge for overburdened teams that simply don’t have the resources.
How a RMIS can help
With a flexible, cloud-based RMIS platform like Origami Risk, the same tools used to streamline the management of claims, insurance, and safety data can also be put to use in support of each of the plan components listed above.
Assessing the risk to facilities, fleet vehicles, and other assets
Origami Risk’s data collection tools are the perfect solution for gathering data that can be used to accurately assess the risks to a business’s property. Custom risk assessment forms with required data fields, coded lists, and tool-tips that provide clear direction to respondents, can be created to control data quality while also making completion as easy as possible for those entering information.
When setting up risk assessment forms, online and mobile forms for specific locations, groups, or roles can be created. Facility managers, safety leaders, and other designated stakeholders can complete risk assessments using online forms accessible via a user portal. For intake at locations or areas with no internet access, risk assessments can be downloaded and performed on mobile devices.
See how Banner Health is innovating operations with online portals
Tracking and measuring the effectiveness of efforts to minimize risks
While the risks that can result from severe weather cannot be completely eliminated, taking precautions and making improvements based on the results of risk assessments can minimize damage to facilities and disruption of business.
Origami Risk can assign and track the status of projects that address specific risks related to flooding, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter storms. Respondents can attach photographs, videos, and other files to document improvements and verify that critical precautions are actually implemented. Automated notifications, tasks, and reminders—sent via email or displayed in dashboard widgets—not only foster greater accountability, they also reduce the administrative overhead by eliminating the need to follow-up with emails and calls.
If high winds, flooding, ice & snow, or wildfires damage facilities or other property, the system can be used to aggregate the financials of claims related to an event to accurately assess the full impact. Taking this comprehensive information into account, corrective actions can then be updated and assigned to locations that may encounter similar risks in the future.
Standardizing and streamlining communication
To minimize problems caused by untimely or misleading communications, the IBHS recommends that businesses have a crisis communication plan in place to ensure that accurate information is provided before, during, and after a disruption.
Email templates can be created in Origami Risk that that remind contacts of the actions that need to be taken at a specific location, or across a region, based on business continuity plans. These templates can be sent manually from location records in the system or, when triggered by a severe weather alert issued by the National Weather Service, automatically sent to contacts at locations within range of the alert.
Read about the Port of Seattle’s use of Origami Risk to automate communications with stakeholders
Responding to severe weather
In the aftermath of a storm or other natural disaster, the same portal used to collect risk assessments can be used to submit damage reports that include photos and comments. Even before power has been returned to facilities, stakeholders can begin providing this information using their mobile devices.
Such an approach is demonstrated in a case study that highlights the Compass Group USA risk management team’s collection of business interruption and property damage details in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, a collection link was sent to designated contacts. 48 hours later, the first responses began to arrive.