Flood advice for UK businessesMany parts of the country were affected by severe floods towards the end of 2015. With many of the businesses affected now returning to normal, it is a good time to consider how future floods could affect your business, rather than wait until it is too late.

December 2015 brought some of the most severe flooding the UK has ever seen. Some of the areas affected might not previously have considered themselves to be at real risk of flooding. As with the previous floods in 2013, there is a lot for businesses to learn to help them prepare for such events in the future.

As with many of the risks you face as a business, there is a lot to be said for planning ahead and also making use of the free resources and information that are at your disposal.

Know your risks

The first step in planning for a flood is to know your risks. If you live in an area that has previously been affected by floods, this will already be apparent. Even if it has not been affected recently, you may have been advised when buying or insuring your property that there is an element of flood risk. If you are unsure of your flood risk, you can buy a flood report from Know Your Flood Risk for just £24, which can help you better understand your risks. The report can also be useful when applying for insurance on the property, and a sample report can be seen here.

It’s important to remember that flooding doesn’t only affect low-lying areas and those near rivers. In some circumstances, a sustained high level of rainfall can overwhelm drainage systems and cause an area to flood. If however you still feel that your business is not at a significant risk of flood, you may still consider subscribing to flood alerts from the Environment Agency, just in case the unexpected should happen.

Establish a plan

You may already have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan for your business. If so, your flood recovery plan can simply be incorporated in to this to help your business to function as normal following a flood. If you don’t, then a simple plan should be drawn up to agree who will take on key responsibilities for considerations such as these:

  • Notifying key people within the business
  • Deciding whether or not the business should stay open
  • Agreeing in what circumstances the business might close
  • Notifying customers, suppliers and other interested parties
  • Reviewing any planned visits or deliveries to the premises and making alternative arrangements
  • Arranging an alternative location to work from if required

Drawing up a plan like this needn’t take up a lot of time, but it gives you a process you can work to if the worst should happen.

Reacting to a flood

If your business should be affected by a flood, this page from the Environment Agency provides most of the advice you will need. In the first instance, notify your insurer or broker and they will help you through the claims process. It is important to notify them promptly, as they are likely to be very busy in the event of widespread flooding. There may be help available from your local Fire & Rescue service to pump water from your property, for which a fee may apply.

When it comes to cleaning up your property, you should also remember your responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act. Whilst you may have loyal staff who are happy to help out, cleaning up after a flood is probably very different from their every day work. So it’s very important that you provide protective clothing and equipment to help manage the risks of infection and contamination. If in any doubt at all, keep staff away from the premises until you are happy that they are clean and safe, or take the advice of your insurer or broker.

“Would your business stay afloat?” – a free guide from the Environment Agency

If you feel that your business is at real risk of flooding in the future, the Environment Agency has also put together a detailed, free information pack for UK businesses, entitled “Would your business stay afloat?”. You can download a copy of the guide here.

If you have any questions about flooding or any other aspects of property or business insurance, call us on 01943 581 449 or contact us through the website.