East Coast operators affected by the recent hurricane and snowstorms can follow a few basic steps to make the insurance-claims process easier, according to a recent client alert from the insurance recovery experts at the Pillsbury law firm.
Compliments from Foodservice Equipment Magazine as passed on by the National Restaurant Association:
- Collect all your insurance policies, including commercial property insurance, auto policies, flood insurance and any others, to evaluate primary coverage for a range of covered losses.
- Understand the types of losses that can be covered. Damaged buildings, ruined equipment and spoiled food are among the most common losses covered by a restaurateur's commercial property insurance. But you may also be eligible to make claims for business interruption, including utility service interruption, and extra costs for running your business as a result of a covered loss.
- Act quickly and follow instructions. Most policies provide explicit instructions on giving notice to your insurer and/or insurance broker about potential losses. Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to provide notices that are accurate and directed to the correct parties. You don't need to wait to tally all your losses before providing notice.
- Document everything. Take photos of property damaged during the storm, as well as property that may have become unusable after the storm. Track expense-related losses carefully and save receipts for any repair work.The New York State Restaurant Association is providing its members with phone numbers and official information from New York’s city health commissioner on dealing with the storm’s aftermath. Everything from the how-to’s of re-opening a restaurant without electrical power to extended liquor-license deadlines to food donations can be found at the association’s website.
Among the tips from the Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation are restaurant re-opening guidelines for any operation affected by Hurricane Sandy either due to flooding, power outages or food contamination. It includes this reminder about foodservice equipment and furnishings:
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment that may have been exposed to contamination. Refrigerators and freezers and other equipment with fiberglass insulation must be checked to see if the insulation was exposed to flood water. If it was exposed, it must be removed and replaced. Styrofoam or closed cell polyurethane insulation may be cleaned but it is best to check with the manufacturer. A licensed electrician should thoroughly inspect electrical components (including wiring, compressors and switches) to determine if they should be replaced. Check water heaters particularly if flood water got into the gas burner, electrical parts or insulation.
- Walk-in Coolers: If walk-ins have been flooded, the floors and walls should be cleaned and sanitized. If flood waters rose above panels with holes are otherwise not intact, the panel should be replaced. Those with wood floors will need to have the flooring replaced.
- Furnishings: Porous or absorbent furniture and fixtures should be discarded if they have come in contact with flood water. This includes upholstered furniture, tables and booths that cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized. Paper and disposable products that have been in contact with flood water should also be discarded.
- Walls and Ceilings: Sheetrock, insulation or ceiling tiles that have been soaked by flood waters should be removed to at least 30 inches above the waterline. Paneling may be removed and saved but air should circulate around wall cavities to dry the studs and the sills, which do not have to be replaced if dried properly. Flooded portions of studs and sills should be treated with a biocide such as a bleach and water solution to avoid mold or mildew growth.
- Floors and Coverings: You should remove linoleum or tile that has been flooded to clean and dry wooden subfloors. This will prevent mold growth in the future. If this cannot be done immediately, you may clean and sanitize the area and replace the flooring at a later date. If flooring is on a concrete slab, only damaged or loose tiles need to be removed. Linoleum or vinyl tile may be saved if you can clean and sanitize them. Carpeting, padding or foam rubber, including padding under tiles, must be thrown away if soaked by flood waters.