Given the likelihood that Hurricane Irma will have a significant impact on the Georgia coast and potentially other areas of the state, I thought it would be a good idea to remind agency owners of the rules regarding payment of their employees if their offices are closed. My blog post in January of this year explains those rules in some detail.
Another issue concerns the steps that should be taken to protect an agency’s data and technology. The best advice I have seen on that subject was from a company that offers consulting services on the operation of law firms, but it applies equally to insurance agencies. It is as follows:
1. Contact your IT team today to verify what is being backed up and that your backup is functioning properly. Ask them to run a test backup and restore to confirm proper operation.
2. Verify where your backups are being kept (local, online) and how you can access backed up data.
3. Verify who to contact after the storm to restore data if necessary.
4. Set up a call list with your attorneys and staff to ensure everyone is safe. Include cell and landline numbers on the list.
5. Pick up computers and all electronic or electric equipment from the floor and consider moving them to interior offices. Unplug anything that does not need to be plugged-in to protect from power surges often associated with storms.
6. Remove all loose papers off your desks and floor so they don’t end up on the street if windows break.
7. Bring all insurance paperwork with you when you leave the office.
8. Make working copies of essential data and documents needed to meet upcoming deadlines in the event you lose access to your server or online storage. Either print what you need or copy files to an encrypted USB drive.
9. Note the exact versions of all of your critical software. You will need this information if you need to reinstall software or restore from backup. You can do this two ways.
o In each program, go to Help, About. Take a screen shot of the entire window and print it or save it to a secure location.
o Download, install, and run Belarc Advisor. Belarc will run a report in your web browser with all of your hardware and software details. Print it or save it to a secure location.
Finally, although it may be a little late, this blog post from three years ago deals with the preparation of disaster recovery plans and the resources available to assist agency owners in creating one. If nothing else, those resources explain ways to stay in touch with an agency’s employees and customers during and after a severe weather event or other disaster that can be implemented now.
Best of luck to those of you in the path of Hurricane Irma. It’s never too late to take action to protect your homes, families, and businesses. Hopefully, this post will give you some direction on what to do.