After all the flames have been extinguished and the smoke has dissipated, what do you do if your establishment is covered in ashes? Don’t let fire damage cost you your business due to lost productivity and revenue. Have a plan in place to ensure its survival.
Before fire damage occurs:
Take preventive action, incorporating ongoing off-site contingency plans including…
- A contact list with updated phone numbers and emails.
- A video or photographic record of your business for reimbursement in the event of loss – the more thorough, the better!
- A weekly backup of necessary computer files.
- An up-to-date list of inventory.
- A securely stored backup of accounting records.
- A pre-loss agreement with a restoration company.
Already suffered fire damage?
- Don’t touch anything.
Never enter your premises without the express consent of firefighters. Fire damage can result in an array of hidden, unsafe conditions. In addition, touching or removing items could void your insurance coverage - or lessen the amount that you receive for damage reimbursement. Commercial fires are a serious situation. When in doubt, call for professional help.
- Turn all utilities off.
Turn off water at the valve, and gas and electricity at the meter.
- Immediately contact your insurance company.
They can start the claims process rolling by sending out an insurance adjuster to assess damages and discuss the situation. They will also advise you of what you should or should not do to protect your insurance coverage. If you rent or lease space, contact the property owner’s insurance agent as well.
- After the “all-clear,” remove necessary items.
These include business licenses and permits, inventory and accounting records, employee documents, insurance information, cash, credit cards, and checkbooks, and other valuables. NOTE: Do not open fire safes until they have cooled as contents may ignite or the safe explode!
- Notify local law enforcement – and everyone else.
Alerting local law enforcement can help prevent further vandalism, theft, and liability issues. Employees, customers, suppliers and vendors should be notified of the situation, as well as the post office and your utility and credit card companies. Be sure to provide updated contact information.
- Call a pro.
Contact your local Rainbow International professional to schedule emergency board up and tarp over services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will protect your business against additional intruder and weather related damage. In addition, schedule a remediation assessment with a professional in order to supply a rebuilding estimate and get the ball rolling with your insurance company.
- Keep extensive records.
Carefully collect and document receipts and expenses, and keep extensive records of all phone calls and rebuilding related discussions. Get written estimates before work is begun. Take care to read all items thoroughly before signature or approval.
- Need help?
The Red Cross may be able to offer assistance.
- Consider a loss assessor.
If things aren’t going your way with the insurance company and you feel the funds you’ve been allotted aren’t a fair reflection of the damage incurred, consider the help of a loss assessor or public adjuster. Unlike the loss adjuster, who works for the insurance company, a public adjuster is licensed by the state to negotiate declined claims and disputed settlement issues between your business and the insurance company on your behalf.
- Don’t expect a quick fix.
Though fire damage happens in a flash, understand it will take time to get insurance coverage, clean the site, secure necessary permits, rebuild, alert vendors, suppliers, employees and clientele, and reopen. Be driven, but realistic, about the time and effort involved in rebuilding.
Has your business suffered fire damage? Don’t wait. Call Rainbow International® today. We have the knowledge, tools, and technology to restore your business to its pre-fire condition – fast!