Pilot Project Designed to Help Small Businesses Prepare for Disasters

GUELPH, ON, May 20 2008 – Small businesses in downtown Guelph, Ontario have new resources to help them prepare for disaster-related business interruptions thanks to a pilot project launched today. The Open for business(SM) program is made available through a partnership between the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), The Co-operators and the Downtown Guelph Business Association.

The comprehensive program consists of three main components designed to help businesses prepare for business interruptions of all kinds: a disaster planning folder, a guide and a planning toolkit.

  • The Open for business(SM) Disaster Plan Folder contains planning advice and is designed to hold important papers such as leases, insurance policies and contact lists.
  • The Open for business(SM) Getting Back to Business Guide provides step-by-step instructions to help business owners assess damage, file insurance claims, and ultimately return to business.
  • The Open for business(SM) Toolkit contains helpful information, checklists and forms to help business owners both reduce the potential for loss, and reopen quickly.

During the pilot project, which is being funded by The Co-operators, a university student is working out of the Downtown Guelph Business Association office. The student is distributing the kits and will raise awareness of the program and assist local companies with business continuity planning throughout the summer.

“Research tells us that at least one in four small businesses forced to close for a period after a loss never reopens, and those that do struggle to remain in business,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators and chairperson of the ICLR. “Smaller businesses tend to lack the resources to develop robust business continuity plans, which are standard among larger businesses. This program is designed to help them do just that, so that they can better protect their investments and livelihood.”

As climate change and increasingly erratic weather raise concerns in Canada and throughout the world, disaster preparedness is more important than ever. For further information, visit iclr.org.

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of Western Ontario and a number of other partners.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of $7 billion. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit unions and like-minded organizations. It is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada. www.cooperators.ca.