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Business Insurance
Friday, December 11, 2015 - 10:36
Criminal Christmas

The festive season affords South Africa’s SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) the opportunity to ‘close up shop’ and perhaps reward employees with some well-deserved time off. It is also a period during which business assets are at greater risk due to criminal activity and other loss events, including fire and water damage.
While there is plenty of “how to” advice to assist Joe Average in reducing holiday insurance risks, little advice is given to SMEs. Deserted business premises are just as likely to suffer setbacks over the quiet year-end period. 
“Preparing for the holidays is not as simple as closing windows, locking doors and checking that perimeter fences are intact,” says Marcel Wood, Head of Risk Improvement Services at Hollard.  “We urge small business owners to make preparations to ensure the business is protected from unforeseen events over the holiday period.”
A careful inspection of business premises and a review of security arrangements are critical in ensuring that there are no surprises upon your return in the New Year.
Hollard provides a few tips for business owners:
• Inspect gutters, downpipes and drains to ensure effective water runoff and prevent water damage in the event of heavy downpours.
• Protect stock left outside from the elements.  Ensure that idle pallets or other items stored against exterior walls do not pose a fire risk, block lines of sight to access points and do not make it easier for criminals to gain access to your building.
• Check that CCTV cameras, electrical fencing, security beams and burglar alarm systems are in working order. Battery back-ups and generators should be checked given the likelihood of load-shedding events in December and January. The persons watching over your business premises must be informed of any manual procedures that need to be performed prior to and following a power failure. Inform your security company of closing dates and update their emergency contact lists, so that they have the correct business contact person and the relevant external providers such as armed response, fire and ambulance services.
• Check that fire extinguishers and fire hose reels are in place and have been serviced before closing shop in December.
• Complete a visual inspection of shop floors and offices to ensure that there are no material hazards that may pose a fire risk and ensure that all electrical utilities are turned off and where possible un-plugged. This not only mitigates fire risk but can also prevent unnecessary damage to electronic equipment due to lightning strikes and power surges.
• All non-essential utilities should be shut down at their main shut-offs, including piped gas or portable cylinder gas used for operations.
• Turn off office equipment such as desk lights, copiers, desktop computers, monitors and printers – even fax machines, phone systems and server computers where possible.
“If you take the precautions for your business before closing shop you can commence business smoothly from the very first day when you reopen,” concludes Marcel Wood.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.12 1st December, 2015
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