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How the rise of environmental risks can impact your business

If your business property experienced flooding during extreme weather, what would you do? Would you be prepared?, asks Diane Johnston from Autoline.

The environmental topography of the globe is increasingly changing, leading to a rise in climate change, natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. Even if your business is in an area with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it could flood.

In future years, businesses need to be better prepared for more cold snaps, such as the ‘Beast from the East’ this time last year. Ofwat (2019) has revealed that over 200,000 companies across the UK experienced supply interruptions due to this storm, including an increase in burst pipes, with knock-on impacts on leakage within business premises.

The Met Office (2018) has predicted storm activity across the globe will steadily increase in 2019 – a direct impact of climate change. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that storms will happen more frequently, the stormy weather is predicted to become more intense and therefore more damaging; bringing with it heavy rain which can result in heavy flooding.

By taking action to prevent flooding, businesses can save up to 90% on the cost of lost stock and movable equipment. This can be achieved through thorough planning, including creating a business flood plan that outlines how your company will respond to a flood.

As a business owner, you can prepare by purchasing flood boards for your doors and keep a pump in the lowest level room of your building to remove water. Raising sockets, fuse boxes and wiring at least 1.5m from the floor will protect your electricals, along with installing high shelving to shield items from water damage.

Once you have assessed your flood risk, make sure you are properly insured. Planning and insurance are both equally important to prepare your business against flood damage, complementing each other to ensure that you are completely protected. It goes without saying, but make sure to keep your insurance policy and a record of important possessions safe above flood level!

Remember, flooding can be very costly for businesses. As well as replacing stock and repairing damaged premises, your business could be disrupted for a long period of time.  Business interruption insurance compensates for lost income, expenses and profits if a disaster, such as a flood, forces you to stop trading. It can be added to your policy if it is not included as standard in your insurance cover. The cost of this particular insurance policy depends on your premises, location and length of disruption. By taking flood risk-reduction measures you may be able to cut your premium or excess applicable, in the event of a claim.

Thinking ahead will help make any insurance claim as straightforward as possible. If your business premise is flooded, advise your insurer immediately and make sure that you keep accurate and comprehensive records of the actions you have taken.