Hartford Survey Says With More at Stake, Small Businesses are Least Ready for Natural Disaster

June 6, 2003

Although they have the most at stake, small businesses are less prepared than larger companies to withstand a natural disaster, according to a recent national survey of small and mid-sized businesses by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

The survey reportedly found that fewer than three out of every 10 businesses with three to 20 employees have a plan to protect their enterprises from a natural disaster. This compares with nearly 50 percent for businesses with 21 to 50 employees and 62 percent for those with 51 to 500 employees.

“Studies show that 40 to 50 percent of businesses that experience a disaster and have no protection or recovery plan in place never reopen,” said Jim Ruel, senior vice president of commercial insurance at The Hartford. “Small businesses are especially vulnerable, since they typically operate out of a single facility – even a home – where all their records, merchandise and equipment are stored.” The Hartford survey found that while smaller businesses are less prepared than their larger counterparts to withstand a natural disaster, they are just as concerned about one affecting their operations.

Forty-two percent of small business respondents with three to 20 employees say they worry about a hurricane, tornado or flood – the same percentage as for businesses with up to 500 employees. Businesses in the South are particularly concerned, with nearly 70 percent saying they are worried, compared to 45 percent in the Midwest, 29 percent in the Northeast and only 23 percent in the West.

“The good news is that the likelihood of a tornado, hurricane or flood affecting a business is very low, with only six percent reporting they had experienced a disaster in the past three years,” said Ruel. “But this low incidence doesn’t mitigate the need to be prepared, especially since one incident can wipe out a company.”

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