5 ways to protect your business from climate change disasters

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

Bad weather is the new normal. Recent flooding in California, tornadoes in Alabama and freezing temperatures in New York are just the tip of the ever-melting iceberg. In 2022 alone, the United States has experienced 18 natural disastersincluding wildfires, severe storms, tropical cyclones, floods, freezing and drought, costing $1 billion dollars.

Research shows that climate disasters will become more frequent and cause more damage. In 1980 the US had only $3 billion in climate events. But these events have been steadily increasing and have caused $22 billion in damages by 2020.

Your business need not suffer from a lack of preparedness. From choosing the right real estate to weatherproofing your infrastructure, here are five ways to be resilient in the face of climate change.

Related: 3 apps to prepare your startup for bad weather

1. Understand your location

If you know the climate risks of your region, you will avoid high costs later on. But this can be harder than it sounds, given that in some cases property owners don’t share information, such as flood history, with a potential buyer or may not have that information to begin with.

Fortunately, there are ways to learn about potential risks. For example, depending on what state you live in, that could be flood disclosure laws which make it much easier to find out more about your property.

In Texas, sellers must tell you everything, including whether or not there was previous water damage due to flooding or whether the property is located in a 100-year or 500-year floodplain or reservoir. Other states, such as Minnesota, require sellers to disclose anything that “may adversely and significantly affect a buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property.” Some states, such as Utah, have no requirements to disclose past information.

If your state doesn’t require disclosure, you can do your research. Websites like FEMA National Risk Index, Risk factorAnd Climate check lets you search for properties by address and calculate the risk.

Related: Do you have the right insurance for your business? Here’s how to understand your options

2. Find the right insurance

Once you understand your risks, you may need to seek insurance. This is not as easy as it sounds. While insurance plays a vital role in protecting property owners, insurance prices are rising as the industry struggles to keep up with the demands of climate catastrophes. In 2021, the industry reached a 10-year high for disaster recovery coverage of as much as $42 billionincrease in premiums 12.1% between 2021 and 2022.

To keep up with these threats, the insurance industry is developing new risk assessment systems for climate insurance. These new rating systems have increased insurance prices for many property owners. However, there are ways to reduce your risk rating by making your property disaster proof.

While shopping for policies, research the insurer’s risk assessment and find ways to lower your risks.

Related: This company turns plastic waste into building materials

3. Prevent damage before the storm

Given the high price of insurance and the instability in the industry, weather damage prevention helps you avoid high costs. Flooding and strong winds cause the most damage. In high winds, most of the work will be done by protecting windows, securing roofing and securing loose items, but water damage may require more preparation.

Whether designing a new building or retrofitting an old building, they are here two ways for protection against flooding: “wet watertightness” and “dry watertightness”.

For wet-flood resistance, water-resistant building materials, and a minimal-use first floor reserved for light storage or parking, allows water to flow through the first level of the building without demolishing the structure. For “dry flood resistance” you can seal the building against flooding and use removable barriers to keep water away from the structure.

While these upgrades can be costly, you can qualify for financing to reduce costs. For example, you can get financial help through a Risk mitigation grant.

If you experience damage from a flood, you may be able to get support from your local government to make changes during reconstruction. In San Francisco, the city government launched a utility offers up to $5,000 for businesses damaged in the flood zone and $2,000 for businesses outside the zone.

Related: 3 steps to prepare your business for wildfire season

4. Protect from fire

Depending on where you live, you may be at greater risk for wildfires.

Invest in fireproof materials, including wire mesh and non-combustible gutters and fences, to keep embers out of your home and prevent fire from entering. You can also buy non-flammable plants to build a barrier between your home and fire.

As with storm damage, if your local government has a Hazard Mitigation Grant, they may be able to help fund some upgrades to help protect you from fires.

5. Participate in resilience hubs

Most of these solutions focus on long-term strategies, but disasters also have immediate consequences. Be sure to stock up on water and food and have an evacuation plan.

Find out if your area has a “resilience center,” designed to provide shelter, clean energy, and other resources to communities immediately following extreme weather events. By participating in the development of these hubs, you can ensure that your business continues to thrive during disasters.

Related: 3 ways tech entrepreneurs can help and grow during a natural disaster

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