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Protect Your Business from Severe Weather and Inflation: 5 Strategies for Colorado Business Owners

Following the Front Range hailstorm of 2017, it’s hard not to look to the sky each spring and wonder what’s in store for this severe weather season — and with good reason. That storm resulted in approximately 167,000 auto insurance claims, more than 100,000 home and business claims, and $2.3 billion in costs, according to Claims Journal. Combine an increase in severe storms with the effects of inflation, and it’s a perfect storm for business risk.

READ: 5 Ways Small Business Owners in Colorado Can Survive Inflation

Unfortunately, it’s just not hail that Colorado business owners need to be concerned about. Heavy snows, extreme windstorms, tornadoes, and wildfires require you to have year-round vigilance when it comes to protecting your employees, business structures and equipment.

With forethought and planning, however, you can help shelter yourself from the unexpected and the high cost of rebuilding. Here are several ways to protect your employees and business while managing your risk.

Protect your employees

Your priority as an employer should be keeping your greatest asset — your employees — safe during severe weather events. Business owners in Colorado have a unique set of challenges when it comes to preparing for severe weather. Identify which severe weather events could affect your business locations and create a comprehensive emergency response plan to meet your needs. It should address the following:

  • Emergency equipment and supplies needed for short and long-term stays.
  • Severe weather exit and sheltering drills.
  • Individual roles and responsibilities for executing the plan.
  • A secondary offsite location to resume business operations.

Protect your structures and equipment

Whether it’s hailstorms or snow melt, putting effort into preparing your structures and equipment ahead of time can help you save money in the long run.

When possible, protect equipment and vehicles from hail.

Use overhead coverings or store them inside structures when not in use.

Conduct regular roof inspections for damage or wear, and make repairs immediately.

Consider using a third-party drone service to conduct the checks and prevent employees from risking injury from falls. Invest in hail guards for roof-top HVAC systems and make sure your roof shingles are rated appropriately for their exposures. Use impact-resistant solar panels.

As the snowpack begins to melt, water — and any refreeze that occurs overnight — can damage pipes and injure individuals.

To reduce the risk of costly liability claims from slips, trips, and falls, make sure you address any wet or icy conditions at your businesses as soon as possible. As temperatures rise, frozen pipes may also leak or burst — causing significant property damage. In both cases, consider hiring third-party professionals for pipe inspections along with snow and ice removal before they lead to an incident.

To protect against water damage, ensure your equipment and supplies are stored in locations on an elevated grade — or kept offsite in a location that is safe from runoff.

Whether your business is located near the foothills or in the middle of a city, keep equipment safe from potential water damage caused by sewer backups and snowmelt runoff — particularly amidst supply chain delays.

Mitigate wildfire damage.

Clear vegetation and debris around your business’ structures and buildings.

Reassess your coverage

Our current economic climate means just about everything costs more. An often-overlooked consequence of inflation is that your business may be underinsured when it needs to be rebuilt or repaired following severe weather damage. Much like inflation causes the cost of the goods we buy to increase, the properties you own — including the equipment inside — could cost more. Talk with your insurer and update your property valuation to cover possible gaps. You may also want to consider adding an inflation guard provision, which automatically increases the value of your insured property, at a percentage you set, to compensate for rising costs of materials throughout your policy term.

Maintain a business continuity plan

Risks continue to evolve, so it’s important to maintain and update a business continuity plan. This can help protect your employees’ livelihoods and aid in your business’ recovery after severe weather strikes. Consider adding business income insurance to that plan if you don’t already have it. It can help you pay for overhead and employee wages while you rebuild and manage lost profits. Think of it like a form of disability insurance for your business. Flood insurance can add an extra layer of protection based on your business’ location.

Protect yourself against the unexpected

If your business is damaged after a storm in the upcoming year, material inflation and supply chain delays could lead to longer recovery periods and even greater financial losses.

While you can’t prevent severe weather, you can prepare now. Review your risk management program — and most importantly have a conversation with your local experts and agent. They can help you navigate the unique weather challenges ahead and give you confidence that your business is prepared.


Paul BoehmPaul Boehm is a regional executive with Sentry Insurance. With more than 30 years of experience working with nationally recognized insurance companies, he has lived in Denver for nearly 20 years, helping support the risk and insurance needs of businesses in the Mountain region.