Before bushfire season checklist: 10 steps to prepare your business
▢ Review your insurance policies to ensure your premises, stock, land and possessions are adequately insured
Before the bushfire seasons begins, talk with your broker to make sure your buildings are correctly covered for today’s rebuild costs, and the sum you’re insured for will cover demolition and clearance expenses. Ensure all your stock and equipment is covered, too. Read more in Underinsurance explained.
▢ Don’t forget the outbuildings
If you have outbuildings, make sure that they are covered, as well as their contents. Also, items such as fences and gates may not seem too important, but the costs of replacing them could soon rack up. Read more in How to avoid underinsurance in business.
▢ Review your motor and machinery cover
It may be tempting to have enough insurance to cover something happening to one vehicle at a time, but bushfires aren’t that selective.
▢ Take an inventory
You’ll no doubt have good stock control in place, but also make note of all equipment and machinery in your work premises and ensure your insured value covers them. And make sure you can access this information remotely in the event of a loss – this will make the claims process and required coordination with your customers and suppliers much easier.
▢ Assess your business interruption needs
If a bushfire meant your business couldn’t operate, how would it survive? A bushfire could also affect your suppliers, customers or the surrounding area as easily as it could affect you. It’s also key to remember, the time to get back up and running may be longer than you think. If you need to rebuild your business premises and get the business back on its feet, it could take years – not months.
▢ Clear debris and store flammable materials safely
Inspect your gutters, roof and chimney and clean out any debris – leaves, sticks and other tree remains. Also store flammable materials such as wood, gas, petrol and paint well clear of buildings. Read more in Protecting your business from bushfire.
▢ Create or review your business continuity plan
Assess the risks your business faces, and identify what happens if...? What if your premises aren’t unavailable for 12 months or if your suppliers aren’t able to deliver? Do you have a website that is fully functional and allows digital trading if your physical premises needed to be rebuilt? Work out your plan B – and plan C. Back up key information and documents to the cloud so they’re accessible remotely. Read more in How to prepare your business for the holidays.
▢ Download your state’s fire alert app
You need to ensure you know of any fires in your local area, so you can watch and act. Download your state’s app, and make sure you turn notifications on.
▢ Create your bushfire readiness plan, and keep it handy
Detail what you will do in the event of a bushfire, when you’ll move your staff, and when and where you’ll go, too. Again, ensure all your key documents are stored in the cloud so you can access them remotely. Communicate it to all employees. Your state’s fire service has downloadable bushfire action plans: New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania.
▢ Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice
Bushfires can change direction or increase in ferocity with little to no notice. Listen to the advice of your local authorities and be prepared to leave immediately if you need to. Your life is more important than any of your material assets.
Find out more
Find out more about QBE’s Small Business Insurance.
Download a PDF version of this checklist
This checklist was compiled based on information available to QBE on or before September 2020. The general advice in this checklist has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You must decide whether or not it is appropriate, in light of your own circumstances, to act on this advice. This guide does not form part of any insurance policy and is not used in the assessment of insurance claims. Any insurance claim will be assessed against the policy terms and conditions and applicable law.