Few businesses have natural disaster plan

Most small businesses lack an up-to-date disaster plan and need far more support to rebound after flooding, bushfires and other natural disasters, the sector's ombudsman says.

Bruce Billson said it was clear that preparation was key to small and family businesses building resilience and coming through natural disasters in the best possible shape.

"It is equally clear that small and family business owners cannot do this on their own and require clarity and certainty of the support available," the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman said on Thursday.

He pointed to his office's survey of more than 2000 businesses, each with fewer than 100 employees, that showed a lack of disaster plans.

For every four businesses, one has a current plan, another has a plan that's out-of-date and the other two have nothing at all.

Larger business were far more likely to be fully or very prepared for future natural disasters.

Mr Billson said simple steps included ensuring record keeping and insurance payments were up to date, and business processes and critical information were digitised where possible.

"As we have sadly seen too often, natural disasters can cause lasting harm to our enterprising women and men," he said.

"Small business creates vitality in our communities, employs two out of every five people with a private sector job and contributes one-third of our GDP, so it is absolutely worth building its resilience."

The survey came amid an inquiry into small businesses natural disaster preparedness.

The final report, tabled in parliament in November, recommended government agencies create a system like My Health Record, allowing for the storage of all relevant government-held and other vital information it might need after a disaster.

Another recommendation called for a government subsidy for businesses required to scale back operations because of workers' volunteer activities.

It called for business hubs to be created after a disaster so owners could get help from government and non-government agencies in one place.

Meanwhile, Australia's February and March flood disaster has been ranked as the fourth-largest natural catastrophes globally for the year.

German insurer Munich Re estimated the flooding cost US$6.6 billion, behind Hurricane Ian in the US in October (US$100b), the months-long flooding in Pakistan ($15b) and March's Fukushima earthquake in US$8.8b.