Despite the ongoing joke of how us Brits enjoy discussing the weather over tea and biscuits, bad weather is no joke. It affects thousands of people each year and is only predicted to get worse with climate change. Take a look at some of these discussion-worthy statistics of how extreme weather such as floods affects businesses in the UK. (Unfortunately, you’ll have to provide your own biscuits.)
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How Flooding Affects UK Businesses
In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 260,000 commercial properties (employing 3.2 million people) located in flood risk areas. According to the UK government, flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster in the UK, with at least one serious flood every year since 1998. Businesses are more likely to be flooded than destroyed by fire and, surprisingly, the average cost of flood damage is almost four times greater than that of fire damage to a business at a massive £28,000. Flooding accounts for almost 10% of all major business disruptions, so it is definitely something to consider when you are purchasing your business insurance. It may take months for a property to recover and fully dry out from a flood so, should you suffer a flood, be prepared to wait a while for your business to resume trading. Seek advice from your insurer and don’t be in a rush to redecorate!
According to the Association of British Insurers, between 23rd December 2013 and 28th February 2015 (the wettest Winter on record!), insurers received 3100 flood claims from businesses, with approximately £149 million paid to flooded business owners. Yet despite a history of flooding in the UK, many business owners are still not preparing their businesses for extreme weather. The Federation of Small Businesses revealed that two-thirds of small businesses had been affected by extreme weather in the past three years, yet 75% of the businesses surveyed did not have an extreme weather plan to deal with these incidents. Extreme weather affects the revenues of approximately 46% of small businesses every year and yet, according to Towergate Underwriting Group Ltd, 43% of UK’s SMEs do not have insurance cover or do not know whether they are covered in the event if serious bad weather. Preparation for extreme weather should be a priority for all small businesses as flood is set to become even more common as the climate changes.
“Small businesses need to get better prepared for extreme weather. However, we know that despite wind, water or fire, many small businesses do manage to stay open and continue to serve their customers. When disasters hit we would encourage people to continue to support their local businesses, many of which stay open whatever the weather.”
– Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses
Expecting a storm or a flood?
- Make sure that you have an up-to-date extreme weather plan or food plan.
- Make sure that you pay attention to your local weather reports so you know what to expect.
- Register for Floodline Warnings Direct by calling 0345 988 1188. This is a free, 24 hour service offered by the government that will send you automated flood warnings by telephone, text message or email.
- Have your emergency contact numbers ready for your local authority, insurer and anyone who is prepared to help you with emergency repairs.
- Ensure that all unsecured items are not able to cause damage during high winds.
- Move your most valuable items somewhere safe where they won’t be affected by any damage, and raise any stock or equipment above ground level.
- If you are in a high risk area for bad weather and your business has suffered before, it may be worth seeking advice from a building surveyor or similar professional regarding permanent flood protection measures.
- Have sand bags ready to block any flood water from entering your premises, and plywood and tools handy in case you need to board up any doors or windows.
- Wrap the bottom of chair and table legs with thick plastic bags or something similar to protect any business furniture.
- If any water needs to be pumped from your business property, you may be charged by your local Fire and Rescue Service. However, if you are capable of pumping out any flood water by yourself you will need an environmental permit.
- Contact your local Environment Agency office if you want to pump any flood water into rivers, ditches, boreholes or watercourses.
- Contact your water company if you want to pump any flood water into public sewers.
- Contact your local highways authority if you want to pump any flood water into street drains, highways or highway ditches.
Read the GOV.UK guide on preparing for a flood: https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk
Business insurance policies should cover your business for any flood damage or storm damage to your premises and stock. You can also get cover for business interruption should you need it.
Whatever the weather…