A guide to protecting your business premises during COVID-19 temporary closures
Published 22 July 2021
If you are closing your business temporarily we’ve put together the steps you need to take to reduce potential problems inherent in leaving premises vacant, such as theft, vandalism, tipping of rubbish, fire or storm damage. The following guide and checklist are intended to help you secure your premises, plan for any issues that might arise while you’re away and ensure that, should the issues occur, you have the right insurance cover in place.
Inform your stakeholders
Let your customers or clients know about your closure. Use signage on your storefront and post the information on your website. You can download a readymade poster from this Health Department webpage. Similarly also inform your suppliers and business partners. Provide emergency contact information in case it’s needed, and make sure your email and phone messaging includes these essentials. Your staff should also update their messaging.
Look at your bank accounts and ensure you have adequate funds for staff payroll and taxes, and any regular overheads payments during the period of closure. At the same time anticipate your accounts payable for regular overheads and your projected accounts receivable. Find out how Gallagher can support your business and what government assistance is available to help both business owners and employees during a COVID-19 lockdown.
Since your normal cash flow will be reduced or suspended while you are closed you may need to discuss alternative arrangements with your bank or the payees concerned.
Make a clean sweep
Think about how you want to find your premises on your return. Empty your waste bins, clean surfaces including the floors and remove perishables, emptying the fridge. To reduce fire risk consider what can be unplugged and switched off and what needs to be kept running, and apply this approach to utilities as well.
Get rid of any combustible material and move required items such as fuel well away from the building. If you have other dangerous goods on your premises review your inventory levels and make sure they are safely secured.
Ask your employees to take valued personal possessions home with them, and to hand over any business equipment they usually use while away from the office.
Secure access points
You’re probably most conscious of your external security because you deal with it regularly. Make sure your systems are functional, your CCTV is operational, security signage is clearly visible, any lights that need replacing are attended to and safety grilles are firmly secured. If you use contracted security monitoring you may want to increase the frequency of surveillance.
If you store items of value, such as vehicles, equipment or fuel outside the building consider relocating them to where you can easily monitor them.
Walk through your premises paying particular attention to access from one area to another and portable items of value. Check locks on windows, doors, storage facilities, safes and equipment that can be deactivated. Make sure your burglar alarms, fire doors, sprinkler systems and smoke alarms are in working order and non-essential utilities, such as water, switched off.
Don’t overlook your computer equipment: it should be securely closed down, and key or valuable items and sensitive information safely relocated for the duration. Financial information and records in digital or printed form should be thoroughly protected.
If you have employees with access to your computer network systems remind them that they need to keep their personal devices secure and locked while your office is closed.
If you or your employees are going to be working remotely you – and they – will need computer equipment with secure dedicated access to your business systems. Cyber criminals may take advantage of business disruptions or closures when normal security practices are more likely to be skipped or overlooked.
Have a response plan
Along with providing contact information in your messaging you need an action plan for responding to an issue. If you are the key point of contact organise for a secondary contact if you are not available when the alert comes.
Also consider if you’re physically able to attend the premises promptly. You may need to deputise someone else if you are going to be at a distance, and if this is necessary make sure they have the information and access they will need if they’re called on.
Know that you’re covered
Before you suspend operations check that your insurance is up to date and the sums insured reflect your current inventory and stocktaking records. If you need to make an insurance claim it helps if you have listed your assets and assigned replacement values to them.
Also inform your insurance broker of your closure period and be prepared to provide information about the risk management measures you have put in place.
Potential delays to pending claims
The situation in each state will vary but there may be delays to the progress of non-urgent claims. Generally governments are allowing urgent repairs.
Urgent repairs are defined as repairs to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household, or because of an emergency. Urgent repairs to motor vehicles are also permitted.
Under conditions where it’s not clear what the extent these delays will be it is worth taking the potential for extended down time into consideration and planning accordingly.
Get informed input
During this time of uncertainty you can turn to our Gallagher experts for advice and guidance. We are here for you and will do everything we can to help you face the future with confidence.
Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective.