Many businesses in the UK are at risk of flooding. By planning, preparing, and making your business more resistant and resilient, you can aim to reduce the impact of flooding to help with business continuity. From creating a flood plan to protecting your products, there are many resources available to help you plan and prepare for flooding to your business, and ease the recovery process that follows.
Planning ahead for flooding will ensure that you can respond to the incident in the most efficient way. You can do this by creating a basic plan of action, signing up multiple people to receive flood alerts and warnings, considering your insurance options and understanding your responsibilities as a property owner.
It is always a good idea to create a flood plan if your business is situated in a flood risk area, even if it has never been flooded before. It ensures that in the case of receiving a flood alert or warning you are prepared to take action, can deploy any temporary resistance measures efficiently, and are best prepared to protect the property and contents from the impacts of flooding. This will minimise financial losses and help with business continuity.
You can download a printable version of a business flood plan here. You can fill this out yourself or with other staff members and keep it in a suitable, easy-to-see place that all staff members are aware of. Take a look at our business flood plan template for ideas of steps to consider.
Businesses of all sizes should consider having a flood plan and for larger businesses with multiple sites the flood risk should be considered on a site-by-site basis. This may be done centrally by the head office, however it is important that site managers understand what plans are in place for their premises and ensure site specific changes are made to best protect the property and staff.
There is a Business Resilience Healthcheck available here which you can complete for your business and receive a report outlining options that you can consider as a starting point for creating a business resilience plan.
The Environment Agency’s ‘Would your business stay afloat?’ document also offers help when preparing your business for possible flooding, suggesting some actions that you can take and providing a simple flood plan template that you can use.
As part of your flood plan it is a good idea to sign up for free flood alerts and warnings from the Environment Agency which can be received by call, text or email by more than one individual at the business. It is important to understand what the different warnings mean as you can use them as a trigger to put your plan into place at the right time. Discover alternative flood warnings here.
Out of office contact numbers and contact details for additional staff members who are local and able to attend if a warning is received, should also be signed up to receive flood alerts and warnings.
Flooding to low lying land and roads is possible. Stay vigilant and make early preparations for a potential flood.
Actions to consider at flood alert stage:
Flooding is expected. Immediate action is required to protect yourself and your property. Put your flood plan into action.
Actions to consider at flood warning stage:
Severe flooding is expected. Significant risk to life and property. Prepare to evacuate and cooperate with emergency services. Evacuate.
At severe flood warning stage:
For more ideas on what you can add to your step-by-step plan of action, download our Business Flood Planning Guide.
A plan of what to do if you need to evacuate should be included in your flood plan. You should follow local news or contact your local council to find the nearest emergency assistance centre.
It is important that your flood plan is reviewed regularly to ensure that contact details are up to date. You should create a maintenance schedule to check that property flood resilience measures still function correctly, and practice installing them periodically.
Identify any important documents, products or equipment that need to be protected and note their locations so you can quickly access them. All important documents and data should be regularly backed up on iCloud, Google Drive or another online storage system, or backed up on a hard drive and stored out of the flood risk area. It is essential that a business identifies the data and equipment that is key to business continuity, and either stores these items in a safe area at all times or identifies on the flood plan where they should be moved to as a priority.
Create a checklist to make sure you have taken all the measures you can to plan and prepare for potential flooding in the future. You can tailor the checklist to suit the specific needs of your business, and it can include points such as:
It is good practice to fully test your flood plan once finished, and run a ‘flood drill’ with staff so they know what to do and what to expect if you ever have to put your plan into place, and run training if necessary.
CLASP has developed some ‘Weathering the Storm’ self-help guides for SMEs focused on areas in the North West, which look into the impacts of climate change on businesses and how businesses can increase their resilience to the changes. Click to download these resources for: Cumbria, Liverpool, Greater Manchester. You can also browse CLASP’s resource library here.
It is more difficult for businesses to obtain flood insurance than for households, as businesses are not eligible to find insurance through the Flood Re scheme. It is important that you ensure the business is not under insured, particularly with contents cover for expensive equipment or machinery as the insurance should cover the cost to replace items new, not the current value of the items at the time of taking out the insurance. Therefore if you do choose to self insure it is important that you have made your business as flood resilient as possible through property flood resilience measures.
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has launched a commercial insurance scheme for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and landlords to find suitable flood insurance. Their ‘Find a Broker’ service can help you find and contact a specialist broker to help you get commercial flood insurance cover.
Another option is to consider taking out an additional insurance policy to cover the excess value on the primary policy, so that if you ever need to make a claim on the primary policy, the cost of the excess is covered by the additional policy.
For example, commercial insurance policies with flood cover may have a flood damage excess costing thousands of pounds, which is likely to be unaffordable for many SMEs. While the cost of an additional excess insurance policy does mean extra financial outlay, it will help to make flood cover accessible to many SMEs.
Only a landlord can insure the building itself, so if your business premises is rented you will only be required to take out contents insurance for the business. It is important that the business is not under insured for its contents, particularly if it has stock or equipment of high value. You may also want to consider loss of earnings cover, business interruption insurance, and alternative accommodation cover.
As a last option, businesses that find it hard to take out insurance through an insurance company due to high cost premiums could self insure. This works by the business setting aside money, which would otherwise be used for flood insurance premiums, to be used either to make the business more resilient to flooding, or as a pot of money which could be used for recovery after a flood. However, there are risks that the business may flood multiple times within a short space of time or that the extent of flooding and damages are much worse than anticipated which could make this insurance strategy risky.
An example of where self insuring may be suitable is when a business faces very high premiums or an unaffordable excess, but the potential damages are small enough to be able to recover from without the help of an insurance claim. For instance, the stock may be low value or equipment may be easily replaced.
For an overview of business flood insurance options, download our resource here.
For information on how to deal with flood insurance when flooding has occurred, see our ‘Handling your Insurance’ section here.