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Flooding: Business Contingency Planning

Jan 15, 2020

Flooding is a risk that we are all too well aware of at this time of year. And a risk which is becoming ever prevalent year-round given changing weather patterns.

If your business premises are impacted by flooding the effects can be devastating. And your business may also be impacted if the infrastructure surrounding your business suffers flooding. In fact, recent figures suggest as many as two thirds of properties in England are served by infrastructure in areas at risk of flooding.

We look at how you can find out if your business is at risk of flooding. And how you can go about creating a business contingency plan for flooding.

How to find out if your business is at risk of flooding?

There are many ways to keep up to date with whether your business is at risk of flooding.

A good resource to use is the Environment Agency who provide a range of ways for people to identify if their premises are at risk of flooding. As well as allowing you to keep up to date with flood warnings.

The environment agency provide:

  • Live flood risk maps
  • An online postcode search (England and Wales only)
  • The ability to request the flooding history of a property based on environment agency records.
  • Free flood warnings via email, text or phone
  • For an additional charge they also offer a targeted flood warning service – which may be beneficial if you have business premises in multiple locations 

How to create a business contingency plan for flooding

Being affected by flooding is something no business owner would want to happen to them. But it is vital that you think about the possibility of it happening and know your risk level.

You’ll want to consider:

    • Evacuation plans
    • Immediate steps after a flood
    • Communication with staff
    • Day to day operations
    • Minimum requirements for business operations
    • Protecting your assets
    • Insurance

Planning ahead will be critical in enabling you to minimise damage, business disruption and to help your business to survive the effects of flooding. This is where business contingency planning can come in.

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.

When thinking about a business contingency plan for flooding you’ll want to consider each of the areas that we mentioned above.

What will  your evacuation plans be – safety must be the key consideration. Of your staff, customers and yourself. Your plan should set out exactly how you will ensure everyone has safely left your premises in the event of flooding and that you ensure no one goes back into your building following a flood.

Immediate steps to take in the event of a flood – your plan may include information and checklists which can be easily accessed by staff in the event of a flood. This could include important phone numbers (your services, suppliers and staff). As well as maps of where key property is stored and where service shut off points are. Acting quickly can help you to reduce the likelihood of damage which can feed into how much disruption your business experiences as a result of the flood.

How will you communicate with staff – if flooding occurs when your staff are not working how would you communicate with them to let them know what has happened, not to come to work or details of a temporary workplace if relevant.

How would a flood affect your day to day operations – Think about the type of business that you run. If you are a retailer and your premises are where you operate your business from then the impact of a flood could be severe if you need to shut for an extended period of time. 

What is the minimum that you require to operate – you also need to consider what you need to be able to operate. For example, do you need access to IT and certain IT systems in order to stay in communication with your customers? Or to run your website? Or access your data? If so, then this will need to form part of your plan. How will you get back up and running as quickly as possible? There are services you can access which can provide temporary office locations for example. These may be worth considering if you are in a flood risk area. 

How can you go about protecting your equipment, data and other assets  – If you are in a flood risk area, then you may want to think about organising your premises with flooding in mind. This can help protect your equipment and assets.

Storing important documents up high can help protect them. You may also want to think about doing the same with your IT equipment. If not always practical, this could be done when flood warnings are announced.

You may choose to store the bulk of your merchandise in another unit for example to minimise the risk of stock being ruined in a flood.

You can also invest in flood barriers to protect your property. And if you are planning any renovations, there are now many flood resistant technologies available which you can incorporate into your work.

Review your insurance – It is also vital to check your insurance. Never assume that you are covered for certain risks. Or become complacent with updating your policy information or the sums you require to be insured. Check your policy wording closely or discuss with your insurance broker if you work with one.

You may also want to consider business interruption insurance. Whilst policies such as buildings and contents will typically cover damage caused by flooding, they won’t cover lost revenue or income you suffer if you have to shut your business for a period of time. This is where business interruption insurance can help. Business interruption insurance provides cover for loss of income that a business may suffer if they have to cease trading for a period of time as a result of suffering a disaster event.

This preparing your business for flooding document from the Environment Agency is a really useful guide to refer to when thinking about your business contingency plan for flooding.

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 of our customers  and developing a full understanding of their business and risks in order 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 if you have any questions or would like to obtain a quote.

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