Professional Jeweler Archive: Jewelers Mutual Offers Tips for Disaster Survival

October 2002


Jewelers Mutual Offers Tips for Disaster Survival

Know what to do before a catastrophe strikes

When a propane tank exploded in a downtown Chicago jewelers’ building this past spring, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. – which insured 32 tenants – was on the scene the following day.

After hiring three cleaning companies and one electronics restoration company to begin cleanup as soon as the city allowed access to the building, Jewelers Mutual representatives began visiting each of its clients from the building.

Several lessons emerged involving insurance policies, leases and disaster plans that could help protect you and the health of your business and your employees, says Jewelers Mutual.

  • Keep your insurance policy up-to-date. You never know when the unexpected will occur.
  • You should buy insurance policies to cover your jewelry inventory (called a jewelers block policy) and for your business (a business owner policy). Several businesses in the Chicago building had bought insurance for their jewelry, but declined coverage for their businesses, leaving them with no insurance to cover the substantial cost of cleanup and business interruption. The average cost for cleanup was more than $5,000.
  • You should buy business interruption coverage. The cost is minimal, but the coverage is essential. This coverage reimburses businesses for indirect losses, such as business income, and extra expenses during the period of cleanup and restoration. Claims for business interruption in the Chicago explosion ranged from $4,000 to more than $100,000.
  • Review your lease and the city ordinances to determine whether propane use is prohibited in your building. If you’re a user and it’s permitted, review safety precautions to ensure your staff handles the propane safely. If propane use is not permitted, don’t take the chance. Chicago had banned the tanks, so illegal users were fined for the offense.
  • Have a written disaster plan, with a copy at your home, accountant’s office or attorney’s office. The disaster plan should include the names and phone numbers of employees, vendors, customers, your insurance agent and insurance company. You should have backup disks for your computer and a copy of your last written physical inventory for jewelry merchandise, as well as for business property such as computers, furniture, showcases and office equipment.

For more information on disaster planning, go to Jewelers Mutual’s Web site,, and click on “Insuring Your Business.”

• Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah, WI; (800) 558-6411.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications