By Simon Mitchell
THE Environment Agency published its National Assessment of Flood Risk back in 2009. At the time it estimated that around one in six properties in England, some 5.2 million in total, are at risk of flooding. More than five million people live and work in 2.4 million properties that are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea, one million of which are also at risk of surface water flooding. A further 2.8 million properties are susceptible to surface water flooding alone.
Severe flooding in Northamptonshire following heavy rain over the last Spring Bank Holiday demonstrates the need to take the necessary precautions to protect property against flooding. Business managers should consider having a damage prevention and recovery strategy, just in case. Don't leave it until it happens and rely on insurers and their contractors to put things right.
If you suffer a flood, be sure that many others could be in the same position and insurers will be inundated with claims. Local loss adjusters and contractors will be busy, resulting in inevitable delays. Knowing what to do before it happens will help get you to the front of the queue, take initial action, minimising delays and ensuring that your business is able to recover as quickly as possible.
The first thing you need to do is find out if your business location is prone to flooding. How big a risk is flooding? Has the site been flooded before? Are there surface water drains and ditches nearby? Are you situated near streams, rivers or open bodies of water such as reservoirs and lakes? If so, it's important to consider available precautions.
Towergate's recently issued Flood Risk Alert includes some practical steps that are simple to carry out and could save you from experiencing substantial damage and consequential loss.
One of our key recommendations is an emergency flood kit with a fully-charged mobile phone, torch, batteries, rubber gloves, waterproof clothing and wellington boots. Within the pack you should include information about employee, customer, supplier and other important contacts, with insurer and emergency services details. A checklist should be included with damage limitation measures, like turning off the water, gas and electricity. Obvious really, but may be missed in the heat of the moment.
Following a flood, call your insurance company as soon as practicably possible. Most insurers operate 24-hour claims helplines. Your insurance broker will also be there to guide you, so keep them in the loop. Tell them what has happened and receive their expert advice about next steps. Be sure that your insurer and broker have a phone number and can reach you at all times.
It's a good idea to take photos of the damage and do not dispose of any spoiled or broken items until agreed with your insurer's representatives. Importantly, never use the gas or electrical supply in a flooded property until a qualified person checks everything and tells you it is safe. It might seem obvious, but you should include all of the above and more in your check list.
For a copy of Towergate's Flood Risk Alert, which includes a useful self-assessment and things to include in your checklist, or an initial and free consultation about flood or other insurance needs, contact Simon Mitchell, Account Director, Towergate Insurance, Northampton 01604 887325 (email - firstname.lastname@example.org).
Simon is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 30 years' experience and a wide range of knowledge about insurance for business. This includes specialist advice about emerging risks such as flooding, environmental, cyber-crime and terrorism.