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Flood Risk Planning For Businesses

Nov 2, 2021

As we approach the winter months, the likelihood of heavy rain and associated flooding becomes a greater risk. There are already warnings of heavy rain in areas of Cumbria this week which could cause localised flooding and disruption.

And as the weather in the UK becomes more unpredictable, with flooding not just a winter issue, it seems likely that as a business owner, you will need to take weather events and their potential to cause disruption to your business seriously.

Is your business at risk of flooding?

Yes. Sadly, there is a risk that your business could be impacted by flooding. Even if you are not located in what is deemed as a flood risk area. Flash flooding in central London in October impacted shops, businesses, houses, and tube stations. And other parts of the country, not typically thought of as in flood risk areas have been affected too.

Data from insurer Aviva suggests that as many as 1 in 3 commercial properties in the UK are at risk from flooding* (*Aviva Flood Mapping Data 2016-2021)

What precautions can your business take to minimise the impact of flooding on your premises?

Suffering a flood can be devastating to a business. From ruined stock, unusable workspaces, long closures of premises and business disruption to the costs of repairs. The impacts of flooding are wide ranging for a business.

But what steps can you take within your premises to minimise the impact a flood may have?

Consider where you store your stock

Stock stored directly on the floor will not survive a flood. Stock stored off the floor may stand more of a chance depending on how high the water levels reach. So, if you can, raise your stock up off the floor. Even doing so by just a small amount could make all the difference.

If you have alternative premises, you could also choose to store some of your stock in a separate location so that not everything is at risk from a potential flood.

Equally stock stored directly under key areas of drainage may be more vulnerable in periods of heavy rainfall if drainage should be overwhelmed. Think about what you store where to minimise the risk of damage.

Check the condition of roofs and drainage systems

Most roofing and drainage systems should be able to cope with rainfall if they are in a good condition and well maintained. Get someone in to review your property and ensure that there are no major issues with your roofing or drainage

Ensure that water flow routes are unobstructed

If water flow routes are obstructed, then there is an increased likelihood of water pooling and potentially entering your property during periods of heavy rainfall.

Be prepared

If water has entered your property previously, be aware of where it entered and take steps to minimise future risk. Sandbags or other flood defences are likely to be worth investing in.

How else can you prepare for the risk of flooding?

Know if your property is at increased risk of flooding

Many sources can help you find this out such as the Environment Agency. Here you can also keep up to date with flood warnings.

Have a business contingency plan in place for flooding

A business contingency plan for flooding is effectively a written document which will set out how you will respond in the event of a flood. It may also be referred to as a business continuity plan.

Your plan should map out the exact processes and procedures you will take if a flood should occur.

Flood planning must be considered a conscious part of your business strategy given the risk that it can pose to your business continuity. Businesses should avoid falling into the trap of thinking ‘we would just….’ when it comes to disaster recovery. The use of the word ‘just’ implies a level of simplicity in overcoming potential issues. It is unlikely that you will have the answers to all of the issues that do present themselves. Our experience would be that businesses who fall into the ‘just’ trap encounter significant problems if an event such as flooding does strike.

Have the right insurance in place

Having the right insurance in place to protect your business in the event of a flood will be vital. You’ll need to consider cover for both your property and premises as well as cover such as business disruption insurance which can cover for loss of income that a business may suffer if they must cease trading for a period of time as a result of suffering a disaster event.

However, we appreciate that this may be easier said than done for some businesses located in high-risk flood areas. Unfortunately, for commercial properties there is not a scheme such as Flood Re which is designed to help households at risk of flooding access insurance cover. And this can make commercial insurance solutions either extremely expensive or simply unavailable. Many insurers are declining to offer flood cover and if they do will expect self-insurance to be part of the deal.

In this situation, we would advise it may be best to work with an insurance broker who may be best placed to discuss your insurance requirements and risk management strategy with an insurer.

At Anthony Jones we understand that flooding can pose significant risk to businesses of all types and sizes. That is why we work hard getting to know all our customers and developing a full understanding of their business and risks to help them obtain the right types of insurance to protect their business. Get in touch with us at business@anthonyjones.com or 020 8290 9080 to see how we can help you.

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