Most Businesses Have Plans to Protect Themselves and Employees Against Emergencies, Reports Survey

Friday, September 5, 7:30 am ET

HARTFORD, Conn., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Nearly all small and midsize businesses have taken at least some steps to protect themselves against an emergency, according to a national survey conducted by The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: HIG - News).

The survey revealed that 97 percent of small and midsize businesses have at least one plan in place—if not more—to protect themselves against some type of emergency. The survey, which consisted of interviews with 225 businesses with three to 500 employees, asked businesses if they had procedures in place to guard against national disasters, workplace violence, terrorism, unauthorized entry, handling of suspicious mail or packages and other emergencies. The survey was conducted by Market Decisions Corp., Portland, Ore., on behalf of The Hartford. It has a +/- 5 percent margin of error. "Emergency preparedness plans benefit both the business and its employees," says John Kauffman, director of Loss Control Training at The Hartford. "They help secure employees’ safety and protect the business’ assets, and they can also help a business stay in operation during an emergency or quickly recover. That often can mean the difference between staying in or going out of business."

The nationally representative survey found that, on average, businesses have four different types of plans in place to protect themselves against emergencies. The most common emergency prevention procedure used by businesses (84 percent) is backing up data and records, usually by copying it on to discs or tapes. A smaller number of businesses e-mail files to another location and some also print out paper copies.

Significantly fewer -- 61 percent—have procedures for reporting acts of workplace violence, 53 percent have taken measures to prevent unauthorized entry into buildings, and 44 percent have plans protecting their operations and employees in the event of natural disasters.

Slightly more than a quarter of all midsize and small businesses have steps in place for handling suspicious mail or packages; the same number (26 percent) conduct periodic emergency evacuation drills; and 24 percent have crisis management teams to interact with employees during emergencies. Interestingly only 12 percent say they have procedures to follow in the event of terrorism.

"The good news is that businesses are committed to communicating to employees during an emergency," Kauffman said. "Nearly three out of four small and midsize businesses say they have emergency communications plans in place. These plans not only help protect employees and address their uncertainties during an emergency, but they can also safeguard a business’ facilities and assets since plans often include instructions for notifying authorities and other organizations. These procedures can lead to quicker response and resolution of the emergency."

Kauffman advises that business owners take the following steps to protect their businesses and develop emergency preparedness plans:

Plan in Advance

For Storms and Floods

For Unauthorized Entry

To Minimize Violence

After the Disaster

Conduct a roll call of employees.

Assess damage.

Check for safety hazards.

Photograph and document damage.

Initiate salvage operations.

The Hartford is one of the nation’s largest investment and insurance companies, with 2002 revenues of $16.4 billion. The company is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property and casualty insurance.

The Hartford’s Internet address is

Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2002 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

Source: The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.