Time and tide wait for no one, so there’s no time like the present to be sure that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to protect your property against flooding. You should also have a damage prevention strategy in place just in case your property is flooded, despite your best efforts, so that you know your business would be able to recover.
Read some practical steps that are simple to carry out and could save your business, and your employees, from experiencing substantial damage or loss.
Check first: get yourself in the zone
The first thing you need to do is find out if your business location is prone to flooding. Here are the questions you need to ask:
- Has the site been flooded before?
- Is your business situated in a low-lying area or on a known floodplain?
- Are there surface water drains and ditches close by?
- Does your property have a cellar or basement that might be affected by surface water ingress or flooding?
- Are you situated near streams, rivers or open bodies of water such as reservoirs and lakes?
If any of your answers are ‘Yes’, it’s time you considered taking some precautions.
Reduce the risk: take positive steps
- Elevate critical stock and equipment by storing it on purpose-built metal shelving that has been secured to the ground, or relocate the stock to an upper level.
- Ensure fuel storage tanks are securely fastened or anchored to reduce potential pollution or damage in case of flooding.
- Consider raising power sockets, phone connections, servers and cabinets to a higher point such as 1m or above expected water levels.
- Develop a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) and subscribe to flood alert warnings such as the Environment Agency scheme.
- Inspect building drainage systems at least once a year and regularly check the building for structural defects through which water could enter, and seal them. • Consider moving any stock kept in open yards to better shelter, and higher ground, wherever possible.
- Secure any immovable critical plant operations located in the basement against water ingress.
- Consider installing or upgrading to water-resistant furnishings, fixtures and fittings, especially floor and wall coverings.
- Think about investing in dedicated property flood protection devices such airbrick covers, non-return valves for drains and waste pipes and demountable barriers.
- Have an Emergency Action Plan in place and ensure all staff are familiar with it.
Pack a business emergency flood kit
This could come in handy - here’s what to pack:
- A fully-charged mobile phone
- Critical business documents and insurance policy details
- Rubber gloves
- Waterproof clothing
- Wellington boots
- First Aid kit
- Drinking water
- Food, chocolate or biscuits
- Wind-up radio.
- Some useful phone numbers
- Your insurer’s emergency helpline
- Your customers’ and suppliers’ numbers in case of business disruption
- Local council and emergency services numbers.
Preventative measures for your business if a flood is on the way
- If safe to do so turn off water, electricity and gas supplies at the mains (and check that the alarm system is still in operation).
- Move furniture, machinery, and stock to upper levels if you have time.
- Close off oil tank and gas tank flow valves.
- Disconnect all of your electrical items from their power sockets and store them higher up on secured shelves – or move them to an upper level.
- Relocate any stock left exposed to the elements in open fields to a place of shelter, or elevation, if at all possible.
- Wrap up and store food items in a safe place as a temporary measure.
Coping with the aftermath: what to do if your business has a flood
- Call or email your insurance company and/or insurance broker right away to report what has happened and to receive their expert advice about next steps. Be sure they have a phone number they can reach you on at all times.
- It’s a good idea to take photos of the damage to any contents and/or buildings as record to assist your claim.
- If making an insurance claim, it’s important not to dispose of any spoiled or broken items until you are told to do so.
- Remove any covers on airbricks to enable any trapped water to escape and air to circulate.
- Never use the gas or electrical supply in a flooded property until a qualified person checks everything and tells you it is safe.
- Move vehicles and trailers to higher ground as a car can float in just 2 feet of water.
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.