Tips to Protect Your Inventory from Any Disaster
As we’ve seen with recent mudslides, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters, people don’t have much time, if any, to prepare when Mother Nature strikes. Even when people receive advance warning to evacuate, they generally don’t have adequate time to gather much more than a few belongings.
Imagine for a second, your jewelry store was in the path of imminent danger. Your first priority would be your safety and that of your associates. You can replace property. That is why you are adequately and appropriately insured. You cannot replace a life lost.
But how adequate and appropriate is your insurance in the face of potential natural catastrophes? Now, before a natural event strikes may be the perfect time to review your entire insurance program with your agent or broker. Do you know what insurance coverage you have and what you need to do in the event your operation is affected by a covered loss? Do you know what minimum documentation you will need to substantiate your claim?
• Keep good inventory records.
• Create, maintain and protect easily accessible inventory records for your merchandise for sale as well as all of your business personal property.
“A central strategy of effective disaster recovery planning is to make sure you can quickly substantiate your covered claims to expedite your insurance settlement,” says David Sexton, CPCU, vice president of loss prevention at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. “Keeping a copy of this up-to-date information protected at an off-site alternate location is one of the smartest things a prepared jeweler can do.”
• Your inventory records should include a detailed listing of all owned stock for sale, customers’ goods, memorandum goods and merchandise that’s temporarily away from your store. Create a file with the following:
• A listing that describes merchandise in such a manner that will trace items to the original source documents (i.e., purchase invoices).
• The value (your actual cost) of each item.
• The date the inventory was taken.
• The exact total value of all inventory items, not a rounded or estimated value.
• Remember special records. The following items may require special inventory records. Ask your agent or broker for details, or request a copy of Jewelers Mutual’s “Inventory Record Keeping Guide.”
• Pawned items
• Scrap gold and other metals
• Estate/consignment/memo merchandise
• Customer repairs
• Merchandise that is not invoiced at the time of receipt
• Custom-made jewelry
• Low-value items
• Gold chains bought and sold by the gram
• Loose diamonds and colored stones purchased in bulk
• Giftware, charms, fashion jewelry
• Sales of items that do not have unique inventory numbers
Protect your data.
Even when you create and maintain excellent inventory records, remember they're only helpful if you can easily access them! Do not rely solely on paper documentation that could be ruined in a flood or vanish in a fire or tornado. Also, do not rely solely on one computer to save your records. Establish the discipline to create and maintain an external hard drive backup in a secure alternate location.
You may also consider storing records in “the cloud,” which means you’re storing them on an offsite server so you can access them from anywhere. If you’re interested in storing your records this way, do some research to ensure any sensitive data is encrypted. You’ll typically have to pay for this service, but it might be a wise investment and more affordable than buying and maintaining your own backup equipment.
Maintain your facilities.
No building can withstand every contingency Mother Nature can unleash, but there are routine maintenance and repairs that you can conduct to help keep your property reasonably safe and secure. Simple things like placing business personal property up off the floor in the wake of a flood warning can be effective risk management to help mitigate your potential loss. As you prepare your off-site business information, don’t forget to include the names and contact information of your preferred vendors including glass repair and restoration services to help you recover quickly.
For more disaster preparedness tips, visit JewelersMutual.com and request “Minding Your Own Business: Jeweler’s Survival Guide” to help you build your plan of recovery. To find a Jewelers Mutual agent in your area who can help you protect your business from the forces of nature, call 800-558-6411 or email YourInsuranceExpert @ jminsure.com.