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About Sam Leeder and Paul Taylor of Actus Insurance, Sheffield

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Protecting your business in the event of a flood

Dec 2, 2019

With the recent wet weather hitting the South Yorkshire area devastatingly hard once again, our thoughts go out to the home owners and tenants affected and facing the prospect of a Christmas out of their home with months of uncertainty still to come.

Whilst flood defences in Sheffield saved many local businesses and private homes from utter ruin, thoughts are these £20m investments have moved the problem down river to Doncaster and Rotherham, hitting once again those areas that were badly affected in the summer of 2007.

Now that the clean up is well underway, there will undoubtedly be a significant debate moving forward regarding the best way to protect these areas going forward. This seems like a good time to consider the future prospects for these properties from an insurability perspective.

For home owners and landlords, there is thankfully a scheme called Flood Re - a joint venture between the government and insurers to make insuring against a flood risk more affordable and provide cover to more households than would gain cover otherwise. Their website has more information and can be found at www.floodre.co.uk This scheme has meant that most householders should be able to obtain cover which, though it may not seem affordable, it can save huge headaches - and additional expense - if a flood should affect the property.

Whilst homeowners should be able to obtain cover for flood risk, although it may not always be especially affordable, businesses are not covered under the Flood Re scheme and may have more difficulty obtaining cover. Insurance companies are therefore able to assess individually whether they are willing to offer terms for cover. The 2007 event has shown us that for some businesses getting cover can be almost impossible.

With businesses lacking a guaranteed placement for their flood risk, it is worthwhile considering flood mitigation measures and whether these can be adopted to protect your business and minimise future claims potential.

Consider:

Water ingress

* Can I implement measures to stop water entering my property in the first place? With the market seeing a number of temporary barriers that can be utilised in the event of bad weather, consider whether these are practical and affordable for your business.

* If you have high valued contents, consider more permanent changes to the property such as retaining walls or earthworks to direct flood waters away from the building.

Property resilience

* Once water has entered a property, drying out can be a time and money draining issue. Consider applying water-resistant plaster and look at the flooring in the property. This obviously won’t prevent the building from flooding, but it will allow you to trade again sooner.

Siting of critical equipment

* Are all your business critical items located on the ground floor? It is often the case that business-critical items such as the mains electrical board, server rooms and other essential services are under the stairs or in a back room. If water enters your building, these would be susceptible to being wiped out, causing severe and unnecessary interruption to the business.

Many of these things are straight forward and just require some thought and planning to ensure that should the worst happen - whilst it won’t be pleasant - it’s not going to shut the business down permanently.

If you want more advice on flood resilience, please feel free to get in touch.

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