The best insurance is prevention

Business insurance is a powerful safety net if you suffer a catastrophe such as a hurricane, fire, theft, vandalism, tsunami or other insured peril to your store, restaurant, factory or office. But prevention is the best insurance.

Just like medical insurance, your business policy is a saving grace, if you need it. But wouldn’t you rather be healthy?

Here are some tips for reducing the chances of loss to your business:

Be dull

Make your business unenticing to criminals. For example, lock valuable merchandise in a safe when you are closed. A jewelry store owner once asked if she could simply cover display cases with a sheet at night. Do you think anyone would have known what was under the fabric?

Lock it up

Make your business inconvenient to thieves when you are closed. Lock your doors and windows with the latest hardware with hard-to-pick locks; reinforce doors, door jambs and window frames so they are difficult to break; place cash, checks and credit card receipts in a locked safe (get one that can also withstand fires); hide small, easy-to-pocket items from sight; place stickers on your windows that state you have an alarm system and install cameras. Only you will know if they are real.

Weigh your options

Find out the cost of an alarm system and decide if the expense is worth more or less than what you are protecting, and be conscious of your decision. A burger stand I insured had a $1,000 deductible for theft. The owners told me if a thief could take more than $1,000 worth of ketchup, it would be his problem to figure out what to do with it. However, if you sell items that are popular targets of burglars, such as jewelry, electronics, clothing or artwork, consider an alarm system even if your insurance company doesn’t require it.

Be proactive

Install fire extinguishers — and learn how to use them. Install smoke detectors — and schedule on your calendar weekly battery checks to make sure they are working. Store flammable materials such as solvent-soaked rags in fire-safe containers. Take precautions wherever possible.

Act like a customer

Walk into your place of business as if you had never seen it before. Look around the customer space. Is it safe? Are walkways even and free of debris? What about for a woman in high-heeled shoes, a senior citizen using a walker or for a toddler who is always close to the ground?

Prepare for hurricanes

Have storm shutters prepared, labeled and ready to install if there is a hurricane warning. Know where you are going to store outdoor items so they don’t become projectiles through your neighbors’ windows — or your own. Have a plan of action for opening your doors to customers after a hurricane if your business can help the community.

Call your agent

All business insurance policies are different. Talk with your insurance agent to learn what your policy does — and does not — cover, and protect yourself appropriately.

Remember, a great insurance policy will pay for things that are damaged. But life is about more than money. Preventing losses can save you all the time lost when handling a claim, replacing and rebuilding your building and belongings, and most of all, the heartache of losing anything that is irreplaceable. Prevention is the best insurance.

• Question about business insurance you’d like answered in this column? Email Pamela V. Brown at pbrown@insurancefactors.com. Pam has been helping people with insurance for 30 years. She may be reached at 821-8899, 651-3533 or visit www.kauaibusinessinsurance.com.

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