Floods are a persistent problem for the UK. In fact, if you live here, you are actually statistically more likely to get flooded than burgled. It is estimated that one in six properties in the UK are located in an area where there is quite a significant risk of flooding.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the planet has experienced an increase in flooding of more than 50% over the last decade and we now experience floods four times more regularly than we did in the 1980s and as the climate changes we can expect to see more extreme weather, and more floods. With the trends towards extremes continuing, and millions being spent on flood defences every year, are businesses in the UK prepared enough for the risk of commercial flooding?
The Risks Flooding Poses to UK Businesses
There isn’t much published about the threat that flooding poses to UK businesses as the majority of published research seems to focus on flood risks to homeowners, but it is estimated that more than 300,000 UK business premises are at risk of flooding and approximately 40% of businesses in the UK close for good after experiencing catastrophic loss caused by flooding. During peak times, flooding also costs the economy around £100,000 per hour per major road affected.
Despite all of this, many businesses struggle to find suitable and affordable insurance cover, including missing out on opportunities such as a joint initiative between insurers and the Government that was created for homeowners affected by flooding.
Analysis of Commercial Flood Risks in Britain
In order to find out more about the flood risk for businesses in Britain, FloodFlash conducted and published a commercial risk report. The report provides a detailed look at the threat that flooding poses to businesses in Britain and highlights the fact that 26% of the commercial properties in Britain are at least at low risk of flood and over half of all the commercial properties at risk are based within the retail and industrial industries.
The report also states that 19% of business properties in the UK are at significant or moderate risk of flooding with 18% of those surveyed actually putting themselves in that category. This suggests that when a business is at significant flood risk they are aware of that risk. 71% of the businesses surveyed agree they are fully aware of their flood risk, yet despite the high understanding of the risks involved, just 44% claim to have flood insurance.
The Probability of a Business Flooding
Certain areas often attract businesses for the very same reasons that the flood risk is higher. For example, coastal areas and seaside towns are attractive places to set up a business because of access to water-based transportation. Currently, 60% of the funding for flooding currently goes towards the flood defences for London and the South East, even though this region contains just 32% of the population.
However, the largest proportion of commercial properties at risk of flooding are actually threatened by something called “surface water flooding”, which is often overlooked as a threat because the source of flooding isn’t directly visible like it is with coastal flooding. Surface flooding is also known as “flash flooding” and is driven by intense localised rainfall.
You cannot assume that your business will or won’t flood based on previous experience. When a property floods, the chances of it flooding again the following year remain exactly the same.
How to Protect Your Business from Flooding
To protect your business ahead of a flood and to stay informed about when a flood might occur in your area sign up for flood alerts. The UK Government has also published this simple guide to some of the easy actions that you can take to make sure that your business is as well prepared as possible.
Knowing that floods represent a real risk to many businesses across the UK is the first step. But knowing the risk is only half the task when it comes to helping businesses become more resilient towards preparing for flooding. If you store stock within the business premises, install shelves to keep it off the ground and ensure that it is safe from floodwater and keep all electrical appliances such as computers on desks rather than the floor. By taking action to prepare in advance most businesses can save between 20 and 90 per cent on the cost of lost stock and movable equipment.
Whilst flooding can cause obvious damage to both commercial buildings and the stock within them, it is often the financial impact of no longer being able to trade that leads to most businesses closing permanently after a flood. Using this knowledge and putting the right measures in place will allow you to ultimately protect your business.
If you would like more advice or a quote for business insurance then please contact Ashburnham Insurance FREE ON 0800 1696137 and one of our helpful staff will be able to help.