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As a financial institution, countless people and businesses rely on you every day for your services. Maintaining your daily operations is vital to your organization, which means that unexpected dangers present a huge threat. Such risks may include criminal activity, natural disasters or terrorist acts. To prepare for the unexpected, you should review your security and disaster readiness plans to help you minimize the impact of any potentially threatening situation.

Without prior planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your company may face lawsuits from clients claiming you were negligent in protecting their assets or maintaining business operations in critical times.

Security Measures
Financial institutions are extremely vulnerable to outside crime, namely robberies and violence. It is important to take action before a disaster to assess your facility security and make improvements, if necessary. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.

  • Advise management and employees to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the facility.
  • Survey locks, fences, exterior lights and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and of the key protective features of your facility.
  • Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, storage vaults, building entrances, transformers and computer rooms.
  • Be sure all employees know how and when to activate your security alarm system.
  • Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
  • Review your procedures for issuing facility keys and access cards, especially for access to vaults and other secure areas. Keep lists of who has been issued keys/cards and have a procedure for handling a situation when an employee leaves or is terminated and doesn’t return them.
  • Discuss security with your local police department. Police departments are often very willing to provide information and support to local businesses.
  • Have your local fire department conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.

Preparing for a Disaster Situation

  • Be sure to discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster coverage with your Axis Insurance Group representative.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe and accessible location (e.g., a fireproof safe).
  • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility for terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
  • Develop a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan. If you already have one make sure that it is up to date. This entails preparing for anything that disrupts your business operations and planning for a backup option. You may consider identifying backups for essential operations, personnel, sensitive records, data processes and communication channels.
  • If you are forced to temporarily close, you should have strategies in place for your customers to be able to access their funds, where feasible, and have a communication policy set up to inform customers of the situation.
  • Review your policy for off-site backup of EDP records. Ideally these records should be backed up and transmitted or sent off-site on a daily basis.
  • Have telephone call lists available (include cell phone and pager numbers) so staff members can be contacted during non-working hours from any location.
  • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the switchboard becomes unusable (e.g., forwarding incoming calls to a cell phone or remote number).
  • Check available emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, emergency generators/fuel, patching materials such as plastic sheeting, wood planks, duct tape, spare fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.

For more information and resources on preparing for a disaster, contact us at the Axis Insurance Group.