A Decade Later, Hurricane Katrina Can Teach Businesses Important Catastrophe Preparedness Lessons

Have the Right Commercial Insurance and a Strong Disaster Recovery Plan in Place Before Disaster Hits, Says I.I.I.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org


NEW YORK, August 26, 2015 –Hurricane Katrina offered U.S. businesses a stark reminder of the importance of having a disaster recovery plan as well as the right type and amount of insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).


Saturday, August 29, marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Katrina remains the most costly insured catastrophe in U.S. history, having caused more than $41 billion in insured property damage, and over $16 billion in FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payouts. Of the $41 billion in private insurance losses, $21 billion were commercial policy payouts, resulting from over 156,000 claims.


“It is important that business owners invest in developing a disaster recovery and business contingency plan,” said Loretta Worters, a vice president with the I.I.I. “Having the proper insurance to help keep their business going when disaster strikes is also crucial. Every day a business is not up and running it is losing revenue.” 


Three Steps to Keep Your Business Running


1. Develop a Business Contingency Plan

  • Keep up-to-date records—and store them digitally or off-site.
  • Identify critical business activities and resources needed to maintain customer service while your business is closed for repairs.
  • Research resources you may need during a disaster: an alternative location—possibly in a different area that may not be exposed to the same types of disasters—and back-up sources of power, IT and communications systems. It can be helpful to already have a relationship with a qualified contractor that can repair your facility in the event of an emergency.
  • Compile important contact information for employees, local and state emergency management agencies, clients, contractors, suppliers, financial institutions, insurance brokers and claims representatives.


2. Put a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan in Place

  • Set up a disaster response plan and train employees how to execute it. Appoint a team leader and representatives from each area of the business to be in charge of developing, managing and updating the plan.
  • The plan should detail how your business will respond to, and recover from, a disaster, including temporarily relocating your business. It should include information on how to communicate with employees and families in the event of an emergency; contact information for local emergency management organizations; and make available emergency supplies such as flashlights, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, and some basic equipment like a generator.


3. Review Your Business Insurance

There are several forms of coverage for your business to consider and discuss with an insurance professional:

  • Building Coverage provides protection up to the insured value of the building if it is destroyed or damaged by a covered cause of loss, such as a hurricane.
  • Business Personal Property provides coverage for contents such as furniture, fixtures, equipment and machinery, computers, printers, inventory and supplies. It also includes coverage for personal property that is kept at the business site such as employees’ belongings.
  • Business Interruption Coverage typically comes into play if there is direct physical damage to the structure as a result of a risk or peril specified by the policy language. 


The majority of standard business insurance policies do not include flood coverage. Flood insurance is available from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and some private insurers. There is a 30-day waiting period before the NFIP policy goes into effect. Commercial excess flood insurance is also available if a business needs more coverage than the standard NFIP flood insurance policy limits.


“Small businesses really struggled after Katrina,” said Worters. “Businesses that had been building their investment for generations were destroyed. That’s why it’s important to reduce those risks as much as possible with the right type of insurance coverage.”


Visit the Business Insurance section of the I.I.I. website and our video, “Not so Risky Business,” for more information.


For more details about the storm, see the I.I.I.’s infographic: Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later.






The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here.



Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org

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