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Recent events in Queensland will have far reaching effects on all sorts of industry. Ours is no exception.

Unless you have lived under a rock on high ground, you know of course I’m referring to our recent floods and storm activity.

Colleagues in Northern New South Wales and Country Victoria are also having a taste of what we experienced here, but arguably on a slightly smaller scale.

Flooding in Queensland is not new. Vast areas of Queensland is basically a flood plain. What is new however, is the devastation in the cities. Not since 1974 have we seen so much widespread damage.

Why developers were allowed to build in known 1974 flood plains is a question that needs to be put to our city fathers. Unfortunately it is too late alter history now, but one hopes we have learned from our mistakes.

It is also important that we, as business men and women in the highly electronic industry that has become the modern sign supplier, take note of the warning bells that should be ringing in our ears.

What for?


Now is the time to check our insurance policies to see that we are  covered in event of flooding, as well as fire and theft. Very few of the insurance groups insure for floods. Westpac, GIO, Zurich and Suncorp are the biggest that do, but you‘d be amazed at how many of the major insurers don‘t.

Unfortunately these ‘extra’ features in a policy can be expensive, but it is worth considering the risk and weigh it up against the loss of equipment, in the unlikely occurrence of a major event.

Basically, you have to ask yourself if you can fund new equipment whilst paying off your old debts. I’d suggest few people could.

Up until recently I used an insurance broker. Most in our industry do from my experience. For that reason it would be prudent to check what you are actually covered for, in the fine print. Brokers usually focus on getting you a well priced package that will cover you for the most likely scenarios. That is what you pay them for. Few will, unless requested, include flood cover.

John Berrill, principal of Maurice Blackburn Solicitors urges policy holders to seek legal advice when getting a new cover, clarifying what they are actually covered for, such is the trap in the fine print with policies these days.

The Courier Mail of April 2009, in an exposé on insurance traps,  quotes Canstar Cannex financial analyst Joshua Zenas. He says the tricky thing is that all these companies have their own definition of flooding based on the cause of that flooding. There are a lot of factors taken into consideration when pricing any particular policy

"Consumers must read the fine print and ask upfront to determine that the exact flood/storm coverage they want is what is on offer. We always tell people to shop around. It's amazing how much you can save by doing this. Insurance companies sometimes prey on people being slack and just leaving their policy – shopping around can be quite eye-opening,"

The Insurance Ombudsman reports an increase of 44 per cent in home insurance disputes between consumers and providers, fuelled largely by claims rejections.

In my discussions with colleagues, I have also found an alarming amount don‘t have a safety net like income protection. In this day and age, tax deductible income protection insurance is almost a necessity. Some life insurance policies have this option attached, but not all do. Some banks insist on it when taking out a mortgage, but if you don’t have it, it may be worth reconsidering that option.

Companies like the ANZ bank even offer Qantas Frequent Flyer points on every dollar paid for a policy. There are any number of incentives out there to get covered because, end of the day, lenders like banks want to know you can keep paying your debts while you are either incapacitated or getting back on your feet after a disaster. Insurance for events such as involuntary job loss (e.g. retrenchment) or loss of income due to injury or illness is usually covered under the Income Protection umbrella.

Certainly anyone with a family needs to look at the big picture.

When we think of floods, we also think of storms. Brown outs, or dirty power, is problematic with storms and lightening activity. It is worth remembering that a recent storm in Brisbane had over 7000 lightening strikes in a very short space of time.

Once again, the sensitive electronics in Wide Format Printers and Computers needs all the protection we can offer it. Surge protection, ideally a mid range UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is good to have anytime, but they really come into their own when we experience increased storm activity.

Western Australia and Queensland have had some ripper storms of late, but South Australia and Victoria also have their fair share every year.

It is important to be proactive rather than reactive.

Sadly, most of us are so busy trying to earn a living, it is not until a ‘disaster’ that we sit back and think how easy it may have been to prevent data loss. ‘If only’ is a pretty common start to a lot of conversations after such an event.

What about data backups? Do you keep a copy of your backups off site?

You’d be appalled at how many sign and graphics shops see no value in keeping regular backups of their data.

You’d be equally amazed how many backup their data, and leave the backup in the desk draw near the computer. This is very dangerous.

Theft is bad enough, but suppose you have a fire. You lose your computer, the data on the hard drive, and the backups. You end up with nothing.

You should always take a backup off site for the reasons explained  above. 

According to an industry leader in off-site back ups, reveals;

1. 43% of people lose irreplaceable files every year,
2. 1 in 8 Hard Drives crash
3. 50,000 Laptops are stolen every year in Australia (1 every 10 minutes)
4. Only 3% of stolen laptops are ever recovered,
5. Thousands of files are lost each year due to fires, floods, power surges and other disasters
6. Up to 13% of hard drives crash in their first year.
7. 70% of business fail after a major loss of data

There are plenty of online companies that offer these services for a nominal fee. Once again, it all depends on how much you think your business is worth.

What is yours worth? More than the cost of an insurance policy?