4 ways to prepare your restaurant for hurricane season

 December 1, 2022     UFG Insurance    Business  Read Time: 4 min
A restaurant owner reviewing preparations for hurricane season

If your restaurant or food business is located along the Gulf or East Coast, you don’t need to be reminded of how destructive hurricanes can be — but you do need to be prepared for another busy storm season. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a seventh consecutive “above average” season for hurricanes in the Atlantic, with forecasters expecting 21 named storms and three to six major hurricanes (those with winds of 111 mph or higher). 

While all businesses face risks from hurricanes, including wind damage and extreme flooding, restaurants face unique challenges when it comes to preparation and recovery. Food inventories can easily spoil during and after a hurricane, and hesitant customers may stay away long after the storm blows through.

That explains why an estimated 40% of small businesses (many of them restaurants) close permanently when a hurricane comes through and another 25% close within the following year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It's critical to prepare early and understand your specific business risks before the next hurricane appears on the horizon. Here are some tips for preparing your restaurant or food business for hurricane season, and how you can try to avoid some of the worst outcomes.

4 ways to prepare your restaurant for hurricane season

1. Establish plans for storm preparation and recovery

If you haven’t written a business continuity plan for your restaurant, this is a good place to start. It will help your staff secure the business as a storm approaches and minimize downtime after it passes, greatly improving your restaurant’s odds of survival.

Start by creating a process for deciding whether to close your restaurant or stay open. If a closure is necessary, make sure you have staff contact information, evacuation plans and checklists for all physical tasks that need to be completed, such as boarding up windows, raising furniture off the floor and turning off the gas to your building.

Your continuity plan should also include checklists and documents for after the storm passes, including damage reports, rules for reopening if your staff is faced with hazards, and inventory restocking guidelines. If you need help building a business continuity plan for your restaurant, visit ready.gov for plan creation tips from FEMA.

2. Review your business insurance coverages

All restaurant businesses should have commercial property insurance but know that these policies may not cover damage from flooding and storm surges, which are the primary causes of damage in a hurricane.

Businesses at risk from hurricanes or flooding — even those far inland — should consider purchasing flood insurance, which may cover your building and its contents from flood damage. Start a conversation with your insurance agent to explore flood coverage.

Note that it’s important to secure flood insurance well in advance of a storm; there is sometimes a 30-day waiting period for a policy to go into effect.

Other policies that your restaurant business may want to consider include business income insurance, which helps protect against lost income due to a shutdown, and contamination and spoilage coverage to help replenish your food inventory in the event that power is lost. 

Reach out to a UFG agent to discuss the specific policies and add-ons that can help your business bounce back from a storm shutdown.

3. Secure important documents and data

Restaurants, like any other business, have reams of important documents and data that can easily be swept away in a hurricane. The right insurance policies can help your business recover from a loss, but nothing can replace paper documents that weren’t properly protected from floodwaters or wind.  Important documents that need to stay on premises have a better chance of avoiding damage if they’re wrapped in plastic. You might also make backup copies of those documents and consider storing them offsite or in a digital format.

4. Prepare your physical location for a hurricane

Preparing your restaurant building for a hurricane should begin before a storm ever takes aim at your area. That includes preparations like:

  • Having your roof inspected for any possible issues or weak spots.
  • Purchasing hurricane protection essentials like plywood, sandbags and a backup generator before they’re in high demand.
  • Installing hurricane shutters, panels or shields on your building’s exterior.
When a hurricane does threaten your area, it’s time to put your plans into action. Check your property for objects that could cause damage by becoming airborne, shut off your main gas line and check your building’s drainage system to avoid any clogs or blocks that can cause flooding.  Preparing your restaurant for hurricane season can feel overwhelming at first, but your UFG agent is ready to help. Reach out today to discuss options for protecting your investment and rest easier as storm season gets underway.

The information provided is for informational purposes only. Every attempt is made to ensure that the information is accurate; however, it is not intended to replace professional advice. For more information, see Disclaimers & Other Legal Documents.