Deloitte Leader Says Hurricane Katrina Underscores Need for Business Contingency Plans

September 14, 2005

In the aftermath of Katrina, companies are reportedly realizing the need to plan for the worst.

That is the message that Bill O’Connell, national service line leader of the Forensic & Dispute Services practice of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP, wants company owners everywhere to hear loud and clear.

“In the post-9/11 era, it is essential that companies formulate recovery plans to account for natural and man-made disasters, if they want to survive in the long term,” said O’Connell, whose Forensic & Dispute Services practice includes the Business Insurance Claims Consulting group, led by Claudia Wolf.

O’Connell and Wolf helped lead a team of insurance specialists calculating the loss for a major New York financial institution that sustained nearly $2 billion in property damage as a result of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. O’Connell is also part of a three-member panel working to resolve insurance valuation matters for the World Trade Center complex.

“All too often, companies put disaster recovery efforts on the back burner. They convince themselves that the worst could never happen to them,” Wolf said. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of mentality that could put a company out of business. Even a smaller-scale mishap could do serious damage to an organization’s bottom line without proper planning. This is why preparation for unforeseen events is so crucial.”

While it is still premature to get a realistic grasp of Katrina’s overall impact on the commercial sector, O’Connell suggested it is not too early for affected companies to start down the road to recovery. He recommends company officials proceed in the following manner: 1) secure damaged work sites; 2) form a recovery task force composed of risk management, legal and operations staff; 3) establish a loss accounting system; and 4) seek assistance from experienced professionals.

Deloitte FAS’s Business Insurance Claims Consulting practice provides a range of services for businesses confronted with disaster, including: development of loss accounting procedures, claims preparation, assistance in the negotiation and settlement of claims and expert testimony regarding claims disputes.

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