The UK has been hit by at least one major flood every year since 1998. For businesses located in flood risk areas, the likelihood of being affected by flooding is increased by 30%, the consequences of which can be disastrous.
With this in mind, it is important to have a detailed plan of action in place so that your business can recover quickly should it fall victim to flooding.
Practical steps to reduce flood damage
It is essential that your business is protected by the correct insurance policies to cover buildings, stock, equipment, fixtures and fittings in the event of a flood. If you are unsure about this, review your policy immediately to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.
You should keep up to date with weather forecasts and nearby water levels by regularly checking the Met Offcie website, and register for live flood warning alerts at https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/.
Carrying out the following measures before a flood can minimise physical damage to the business premises, as well as save valuable stock and equipment.
- Install plastic air brick covers to prevent water from entering the premises
- Fit flood barriers across doors and windows to create a watertight seal
- Protect your foundations with water resistant flood skirts
- Use sandbags to block potential entry points – these are readily available from DIY stores, and sometimes from local authorities
- Fasten heavy duty bin liners or plastic bags to the base of all furnishings
- Use pallets to lift furniture and stock off the floor
- Board up windows and doors where possible
- Familiarise yourself with your gas, water and electricity supplies and know how to turn them off
When floods strike
In the midst of a flood, safety should be your primary concern. It is your responsibility as the business owner to ensure the premises is safe, and that your staff are kept well away from any potential danger.
Communication is also key in the early stages of flood recovery. It is important to deliver key information to your staff, customers, suppliers, the local community, and landlord (where applicable) about the severity of the flood damage, and what is expected of them (even if that is simply to keep away from the premises until further notice).
Be sure to notify your insurance company of the incident as soon as possible.
Getting professional help with your insurance claim
Flood insurance claims can be complicated, time consuming and stressful, especially when you’ve got a business to run. Calling in a loss assessor to manage the whole insurance claim on your behalf will alleviate some of these pressures so you can focus on getting your business back up and running.
A loss assessor will typically provide the following services, at no cost to your business:
- Manage emergency repair works
- Negotiate interim payments to help cover emergency costs such as staff wages
- Find alternative premises for your business if necessary
- Assess the damage and compile your insurance claim
- Compile your business interruption claim
- Deal with the insurance company’s loss adjuster and attend all meetings on your behalf
- Oversee all building works
As the business owner, you decide on the level of involvement you wish the loss assessor to have; this could vary from handing over complete control to them, to working alongside them every step of the way.
Floods are a very real and ever increasing threat to businesses located in and around high flood risk areas. While in a sense they are unavoidable, with good planning the damage they cause can be minimised significantly.
By Phil Morgan, Morgan Clark