Steps for Disaster Preparedness: Protect Your Assets by Keeping a Current Inventory List

In order to prepare for a disaster, businesses have to consider the various causes of disasters. In the state of Florida, for example, businesses face possible water damage from hurricanes and storms. In California, there is a greater potential for earthquakes. Midwestern states have tornadoes and dangerous lightning from storms. One of the greatest threats to a business at any location is fire damage, and can occur at any time from a myriad of causes. Fire damage can also range from minimal damage to a complete loss.Protecting assets (machinery, equipment, computers, file servers, vehicles, etc.) from water damage, storm damage and earthquakes, especially in states like FL and CA can be a challenge. Fire prevention is at the top of most managers’ lists regarding disaster preparedness, and is a requirement of local fire departments. While there is no foolproof method of disaster preparedness, one can take steps to minimize risk and to minimize any down time during the insurance claim process. Once a disaster strikes, it can be a complicated and time consuming process to put together an insurance claim for damages. When the company files a claim, the insurance company will send out a claims adjuster to evaluate the damage. Part of this evaluation is putting together an estimate of loss. Business owners and managers that can provide a listing of assets along with copies of receipts have better success at getting an insurance claim paid quickly and accurately, therefore minimizing unnecessary down time.

Keeping a record of assets, in particular an inventory listing will help expedite the claims process. It will also ensure you are properly compensated for assets in addition to costs to repair or rebuild the building. There are many already prepared “templates” for asset listings available with Microsoft Excel or Access. Either program will work, but Access gives you a more detailed listing of assets by using a database. This database also allows you to scan images of actual receipts and attach the electronic files to each asset record. For small businesses that just need a simple list, managers and owners can download and install a program called “Open Office” for free. Regardless of choice of software, the most important thing is to accurately list assets along with a description, the date purchased and original purchase price.Once you have completed your asset inventory list, it is important to keep it in a separate and secure location, such as a lockbox at a bank or just store it online. That way when disaster strikes, you will know your asset listing is safe and secure and not in the location that was damaged or destroyed. There are many websites that offer free or low cost online storage. For businesses using Microsoft Office, they can store the Access database or Excel spreadsheet using “Office Live” and “Sky Drive”, which gives each user up to 25 gigabytes (GB) of space for free. Google also has some free online applications called “Google Apps” that can be stored, accessed and updated online.

The best time to start your asset listing is now. Keep the asset listing updated regularly, at least on a monthly basis. That way if a disaster should strike, you will be one step ahead in getting your business back on track.

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