Unpredictable and erratic weather patterns have been taking their toll on businesses in several parts of the UK recently, leading to disruption of operations followed by often substantial recovery costs.
According to figures from the Flood Risk Assessment Service, almost 10% of business disruption in England and Wales is caused by flooding. More worryingly, 80% of small businesses affected by major incidents, such as a flood, close within 18 months. 90% of businesses that lose data from such a disaster close their doors within 24 months.
Against such shocking statistics, is there anything your business should be doing?
What to do if a flood is imminent
If your business is at immediate risk from flooding, there’s not much time to prepare. The key here is to act fast and salvage what you can.
- Notify your insurers straight away and inform them of the situation. Check if there are any particular policy conditions you need to fulfil so as not to jeopardise cover.
Keep abreast of local weather conditions and, where it is safe to do so, take preventative measures to stem the damage. Evacuate the premises immediately when advised.
Make sure electricity and gas are turned off, and be careful when you return to the site in case of any hidden perils, such as weakened foundations.
- Once the flood waters have subsided, try to get your business operational as soon as possible.
Keep your workforce safe, and make sure they know how they are expected to help with the clean-up operation. These are unusual circumstances for everyone involved, so clear communication of responsibilities and full co-operation is key.
- Preparing an insurance claim for damage caused to goods, stock and property may take a little while.
It’s a good idea to consult your insurance broker in order to collate your claim correctly and also to check how future premiums may be affected.
Identify the cost of your claim, which should include things like weather and security protection, temporary repairs, replacements and any other relevant expenses. Take photos of the damage you are claiming for, by way of evidence.
At this point, it may be useful to have a building surveyor by your side to help you assess the damage.
- Keep your management and financial information safe at all costs, ideally backed up electronically or on the cloud.
As you get your business operational again, you will need to be able to process transactions and interact with suppliers, customers and staff as before, so your data is business critical.
Financial business data is crucial to being able to calculate your loss for insurance purposes.
How to protect your business from future floods
Unfortunately, global warming and climate change seems to suggest that flooding will become more frequent in the UK, so it’s best to be prepared. Around 185,000 commercial properties are at risk of flooding in England and Wales.
- Having a Flood Risk Management Plan in place for your business can make all the difference between sink or swim, literally.
Commission a professional Flood Risk Assessment and Report, including practical and cost effective measures that could be incorporated into your Business Continuity Plan. Taking steps to protect your business from flooding could substantially reduce financial losses and help you fulfil your obligations towards you customers, suppliers, staff and the environment.
- Have a contingency plan for how your business will deal with a flood. Make sure the document is circulated among staff and that everyone is familiar with it.
Your contingency plan should include basic procedures for protecting your premises, minimising business disruption and helping recovery. It should contain a list of important contacts including builders, suppliers and emergency services.
Take a look at the helpful Environment Agency guide ‘Would your business stay afloat?’ here.
- Check your supply chain for resilience, in case logistics are compromised.
If flooding is preventing your suppliers from getting through to you or from delivering to customers, the result can be chaos for your business. Take a good look at your supply chain, including any international locations, and put contingency plans in place, so as to minimise any extra costs in the event of a flood.
- Don’t neglect your insurance, and arrange to have regular reviews with your insurance broker. He may be able to suggest improvements to your Flood Risk Management Plan and should be able to obtain the best and most cost effective cover for you.
- Finally, look after your brand reputation. Relationship management isn’t just confined to customers; it affects staff, suppliers and your general standing in the marketplace too. It is a good idea to make provisions for this in your contingency plans to make sure your communications remain professional and accommodating at all times, including during periods of difficulty.
This article was provided by Sara Bryant, who works alongside Bradley Mason, Building Surveyors who were consulted over this post.