As winter approaches, it is important that businesses are protected against adverse weather conditions. After an extraordinarily difficult year, now is the time to take stock of the measures you have in place to ensure you can continue to operate if the next few months provides the usual challenges of heavy rainfall, freezing temperatures, icy conditions and snowfall.
Keeping your business buildings safe
Damage resulting from escape of water is one of the most common causes of property claims. You should ensure all drainage on your sites are running clear and free.
With leaves dropping during Autumn a build-up can lead to blockages. If you store fuel and bulk liquids, tanks and pipes are liable to being damaged by freezing temperatures.
A common problem for tanks is burst pipework as temperatures drop. Make sure they are protected against corrosion or other damage.
Freezing pipes is a very common cause of water damage. As ice forms, it expands causing pipes to burst. When the pipes thaw, water can escape if they are not protected. Water may be released over key equipment damage disruption will result. You may be able to shield or relocate critical equipment or re-route piping if water damage exposure is considered excessive.
This year with lockdown and a long summer, heating systems are likely to have been switched off for an extended period. Your system should be checked before switching it back on to ensure tanks and pipes are not damaged to avoid the risk of oil spills.
It is essential that the structure of your building cannot be breached by collapsing roofs or adjacent trees, equipment and ice flows. Keep the interior of your building warm enough to prevent freezing.
Remember, weather conditions can change quickly and could hamper your ability to react to an unexpected emergency. Public transport, roads, power and fuel supplies along with key services, can impair your emergency response, so be prepared for unusual situations. It may be a good idea to discuss with staff a plan to protect your property.
Helpful checklists to keep business buildings safe in winter
Water leak detection and prevention systems for business buildings
Water damage claims cost the insurance industry hundreds of millions of pounds every year and are thought to account for over 50% of business interruption claims.
Prevention rather than cure is very much the answer, but even if reasonable precautions are taken, leaks and bursts can still occur. The alarming thing with water is the speed at which it can escape and the extent of damage that can be very rapidly caused before the leak or burst is detected, particularly if the property is unoccupied at the time.
That’s why several insurers now encourage their policyholders to take measures that go beyond the usual steps such as regular maintenance, lagging pipes and making sure temperatures are maintained above freezing levels.
One widely recommended measure is the installation of automatic leak prevention and detection devices such as those supplied by Leaksafe. Whilst catering primarily for escape of water from standard plumbing and heating installations, they can also cater for the risk of water escaping from the likes of air conditioning and sprinkler systems.
Leaksafe functionality can include:
- Wireless-controlled valves on incoming water mains so that the mains water supply can be turned off the moment you leave the premises
- Installation of wired or wireless leak detection tape to detect pipe leaks, particularly those that may initially go unnoticed in concealed areas
- Remote real time monitoring and alerts including e-mail and SMS text alerts
- Connection to other monitored alarm systems such as intruder alarms
- Flow monitoring devices that can automatically switch the water supply off if flow is detected for longer than a pre-set length of time (or, where maintenance of flow is critical, an absence of flow can trigger an alert)
Potential to reduce your insurance costs
Additional benefits apart from standing a much greater chance of avoiding the very considerable interruption to a business or inconvenience to tenants caused by a catastrophic burst pipe incident include:
- Insurance premium discounts may be available to reward the installation of such devices
- Installation costs may qualify under the HMRC Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme
Business insurance from Towergate
At Towergate we don’t just offer traditional insurance broking: we believe that prevention is better than cure. That is why we have our own risk management consultancy focusing on pre-loss mitigation and business continuity, and have developed our own business interruption calculator.
We engage actively with insurers and our clients to obtain protection for businesses of all sizes. Our wide range of covers help protect your organisation should the worst happen.
We are passionate about tackling the unprecedented levels of underinsurance in the UK: watch our video on how to avoid this for your business.
About the author
Mark Brannon Cert CII is a respected industry leader with over 17 years’ industry experience in a variety of roles within the business insurance sector. He works across a wide spectrum of insurance product and policy development, delivery and optimisation for clients, including claims, insurer relationships, marketing and communications, and risk management.
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The information contained in this bulletin is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers adviser.