With a global pandemic raging, most business owners are facing circumstances they never could have imagined. This disaster is the worst possible outcome for many businesses including orthodontists and veterinarians, but those who enacted business continuity plans early on have had more opportunities to protect themselves through the ups and downs.
Shutdowns around the country required businesses like dental practices, orthodontist offices, and even veterinarians to close for everything but emergencies. This not only created trouble for patients but also put these businesses in a terrible spot financially.
Creating a solid business continuity plan that takes into account major global disasters allows businesses the opportunity to continue surviving despite economic conditions. A key component of business continuity planning is ensuring the appropriate insurance coverages will remain intact throughout the continuity plan.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
In the simplest terms, business continuity planning is any plan that is put in place to allow a business to continue operating at its same capacity in the event of any disaster. This can include a self-savings plan or coverage purchased as insurance.
When looking at business continuity coverage, it’s important to make sure that you are clear about the timeline. Ask yourself questions to determine what the insurance covers, the length of time for the coverage, and what your practice will function like when you’re using the coverage.
Continuity vs. Traditional Business Insurance
Your continuity plan is not the same as your insurance coverage (IBM has an excellent guide on continuity plans if you want to dive deeper). The continuity plan is what you develop on your own as a business owner and will allow your practice to continue operating to some extent in case something happens.
While continuity is not insurance, it almost always includes insurance coverage. The coverage you choose will play a key role in your practice’s ability to remain open should anything happen.
Continuity After Disaster
One of the first things to consider when you’re drafting a business continuity plan for your practice is what the plan will focus on. Will it cover natural disasters? Pandemics? Global disruptions? While you won’t know what will happen in the future, you can make allowances and base your plan off of situations that could happen so you’re prepared when they do.
Another factor to consider when drafting the plan is how your business will handle the disaster. This will often require you to take an “if this, then that” approach. Draft several scenarios and levels of the disaster so you can be prepared whether there are major or minor disruptions to your practice.
After the often-sobering experience of planning for how your practice is going to handle the disaster, you’ll need to make sure that you know how you’re going to recover from it. Which steps will you take to get your practice back to how it was before the disaster. It might be easy to overlook this part of continuity planning because once the disaster is over and the immediate danger to your business is gone, you may feel like everything will fall back into place. But, that’s not the case. Once the disaster is over, you’ll need to determine how to repair any physical damages and restore your practice to what it once was.
Maintaining Cash Flow in Business Continuity
To ensure your continuity plan works, you’ll need to have cash flow during the time that you’re enacting your plan. While you can build reserves in the time before you have to enact the continuity plan, you will probably not know when that time is so investing regular money into planning for disasters will allow you to be prepared with the money you need to keep your practice running and profitable. In addition to using money that you’ve built in reserves, you can also include cash flow ideas in your continuity plan. Some ideas for cash flow while the plan is enacted:
- Offering your services in a different way (for example, orthodontists could offer virtual consultations or veterinarians may be able to make house calls if the practice is unavailable)
- Providing ancillary services to your patients (for example, offering products for sale that will support your goals as a dentist, orthodontist, or veterinarian)
- Creating cash flow through educational opportunities in your area of practice by using things like social media and internet marketing
Looking at How Insurance Fits
While not the only thing that matters in your business continuity plan, insurance is a key component to keeping your business afloat during disasters or other challenging times. The right coverage can be the difference in being able to sustain your business for a few days, a few months, or even a few years. Having appropriate coverage can afford you the opportunity to get through most disasters.
Sufficient Coverage in a Changing Landscape
When drafting business continuity plans, professionals need to carefully review the insurance that they have. What once worked for businesses will not continue working in an environment that is rapidly changing. Because of this, you will need to have periodic reviews of your insurance coverages.
Protection in a Digital Age
As an orthodontist, dentist, or veterinarian, you likely already understand the importance of cybersecurity. Not only is cybersecurity important to your practice but it’s also crucial for protecting the privacy of your patients. While you’ve probably taken steps to ensure your digital data is secure, there are still incidents that can happen that will compromise your data. Being sure that you’re protected now and during any business continuity plan can help protect your clients and protect you from any blowback as a result of a breach.
Ensure that coverage to digital data is included with your insurance coverage and that it allows for changes in the digital landscape. By making sure that this coverage applies to your business now and in the future, you can protect your patients’ data.
What Happens if Your Operations are Interrupted?
In the event of something like a disaster or a pandemic, your operations will likely be interrupted. Whether that is because of physical limitations or e of restrictions imposed by the government depends on the event. When operations are interrupted, you won’t be able to pay your bills, afford payroll, or you might even have to rely on government assistance (many small businesses did during the COVID pandemic in the form of PPP and other loans). Including considerations for interrupted operations in a business continuity plan can help business owners avoid these negative experiences.
Most people did not expect a global pandemic to take over the world and disrupt operations at their small business, but it’s something that happened and something that small business owners around the country have had to deal with. Those with continuity plans already in place likely did not expect it to have such far-reaching impacts as what it did, but they can now take that opportunity to plan better for in the future.
Perhaps one of the best protections that practices can provide is short-term disability insurance. This can help businesses get through pandemic situations while also protecting their team. Short-term disability allows team members to have necessary time off while recovering from illness while also allowing the practice to cover their wages. It can be extremely helpful if members contract COVID or other pandemic-related illnesses. Practice owners can purchase short-term disability and pay the premium with simple census data on the team while inexpensively providing coverage.
Business Risks and Liabilities
Now and in the future, you are responsible for learning about the risks and responsibilities that you have as a practice owner. Whether you are a dentist, orthodontist, or veterinarian, you will need to assess the risk and liability that your practice has.
Find out what your current risks are and whether you are fully covered by the insurance policy that you have in place. By determining if you are covered, you can then plan for now and in the future. You may be surprised that upping your coverage can be a relatively inexpensive cost for your practice but the benefits are immense and can save you a lot of money. Additionally, learn about the liability that you have in your practice. Many practice owners are surprised to find out that they could be liable for anything from malpractice to injury and even privacy-related claims.
Review your coverage and take the time to determine if you are sufficiently covered. If you are not, purchase a different type of coverage or purchase additional coverage to supplement.
At Loyall Group, we serve a number of professional industries including veterinarians, orthodontists, and dentists, as well as those in banking and fintech. We offer insurance solutions including disability income, student loan insurance, practice insurance, life insurance, and more. Our team of friendly professionals can help you determine the best insurance options for your business continuity plan. Get your free quote today.