“I feel like this is one of those areas that I approach with some sensitivity because so many people have lost part of their family. … It’s a very emotional time,” Wagnild told Pacific Business News.
Craig Wagnild – managing partner at Honolulu-based law firm Lung, Rose, Voss & Wagnild and former president of the Hawaii State Bar Association – assists people with buying and selling property, buying and selling businesses, as well as issues with businesses. This includes dealing with the effects of situations like the recent Maui wildfires, he said.
“It’s kind of difficult to discuss commercial stuff when you’re dealing with losses of life and family, friends, neighbors – I mean, truly the destruction of an entire community,” Wagnild told Pacific Business News. “I feel like this is one of those areas that I approach with some sensitivity because so many people have lost part of their family…. It’s a very emotional time.”
Maui business owners affected by the recent wildfires need to be thinking about their next steps, Wagnild said. He shared some tips for things that business owners can start with:
Pull together your team.
“You’re going to need a team of people to deal with this and that’s going to mean you’re going to need a point person internally,” Wagnild said. “There’s going to be a lot of moving parts and a lot of pieces to dealing with this, and so from a business standpoint, you need somebody who knows those things and is going to be responsible for those things. That isn’t always the owner or the head person. Sometimes you appoint somebody and they’re going to be responsible for keeping track of all of this while you’re running around doing the other stuff to figure out what’s next – somebody who keeps track of things: keeps track of deadlines and sort of starts putting together the plan that you hope to create.”
If you haven’t already, get in touch with your insurance agent or broker.
“You need to understand what benefits may be available to you under the insurance that you have, keeping in mind that in addition to fire coverage, hopefully you have business interruption insurance that may be able to help with some of this,” he said. “These are key components to getting some financial resources to your business to start to move into whatever you’re going to do in the interim until, perhaps, a new space is available.”
He also noted that business interruption insurance may apply even if your business is not directly impacted by the fires:
“If it didn’t burn down, but you were unable to do business because everything was shut down due to it – roads were shut down, electricity went off, I mean, a lot of things happened that, even if your business didn’t burn down, it may have affected you in a manner that you can get some help from your insurance.”
Pull together all of your documents.
“In some cases, that may be tough because they may have burned up, and that means you have to get them from other sources. Part of the value of getting in touch with your team is that you can get another copy of your insurance policy, if that’s not available to you,” Wagnild said.
“Your loan documents you can get from your lender. Your lease or rental agreement you can get from your landlord, if you need to. You need to be looking at these. There are particular provisions of those that have timing and other requirements in there for you as a business owner that you need to consider.”