BY MICHAEL RICONDA
The Rockland Business Association hosted a panel of local organizations and subsequent networking event at 8 a.m. on November 19 in order to educate local business owners on rebuilding and expanding their operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The panel included Hubert Christophe of HANDYPRO, Tom Morley of RCC’s Small Business Development Center, Holly Perlowitz of Community Capital New York, Regional FEMA Director Kevin Hannes, and Sheldon Horowitz of the Safe Harbor Group.
Most concerns were related to collecting on insurance claims from physical and economic damages and learning from the disaster to better anticipate the risks posed by future emergencies. Panelists presented a variety of advice and options on returning businesses to a place of security since the storm.
Horowitz stated that the most common insurance claim was for power outage-related business interruptions. However, an insurance policy is not always enough and may only reimburse for physical damages.
“A typical business policy will not give coverage where just the power goes out,” Horowitz stated.
Speakers suggested a broad variety of other options to accommodate for gaps in coverage, including property endorsements which do cover economic losses, smaller FEMA and Small Business Administration loans designed to fulfill essential business needs without completely reimbursing for damages, and loans from the New York Small Business Development Corporation.
In addition, it was announced that the Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a $10 million program pushed by the RBA, which will provide $25,000 for businesses with under one hundred employees.
Documentation and, in some programs, credit score requirements are required under the plans, but new businesses who have no records with the IRS yet may still be eligible provided that they have the appropriate records.
Physical damage to businesses was a more straightforward issue. Christoph stated that physical damage should prompt business-owners to not only pursue the typical avenues through insurance companies, but also seek out the best possible deal on repairs.
“We advise our clients to get three bids if not more, because oftentimes the assessor is there to help. They understand what the situation is and they want to accommodate, but they are there to do their job.” Christoph said. “If you go out and get three proposals, it is most likely that you will get the number you are looking for.”
Panelists gave simple advice on planning for future events: Plan forward by taking proactive moves with recovery plans, learn from setbacks, keep what works well, and invest in good insurance, especially when handling unforeseen damages such as the destruction of records housed in flooded company basements, a problem which affected certain areas of midtown Manhattan.