Extreme weather events are becoming more regular. Is your business prepared?

Whether you believe in climate change or not it is clear from the events both at home and abroad that your business needs to be prepared and protected.

Hurricanes, floods and fires

Images of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have dominated newsfeeds in the last few weeks alone. Nearer to home, the heatwaves in August caused wild fires, which ravaged the Iberian Peninsula. While wild fires are less likely on our green and pleasant land, the UK has not been spared during 2017.

Storm Doris caused major disruption in February. Then spring and early summer saw some of the driest months and hottest days recorded in over 40 years. The UK experienced 47% of the average April rainfall[1]. And the mercury at Heathrow hit 34.5°C on 21 June. By mid-summer incidents of flash flooding were hitting the length of the UK. On 18 July Coverack, Cornwall experienced “200 Olympic swimming pools”[2] of water in a matter of hours, causing over £1m of damage to buildings. On 9 August, a months’ worth of rain deluged towns and villages in the East Riding of Yorkshire and north-east Lincolnshire.

Wild weather – the UK gets it all. Why?

Britain’s climate is influenced by systems originating from the Atlantic and the European landmass. This combination results in the unpredictable and wet weather conditions our shores are known for.

When is flood season?

The environment agency advises that floods can happen at any time, but as we move into the autumn the risk of flooding rears its ugly head. The Met Office Britain has warned of unprecedented rainfall this winter, with predicted records to be broken by up to 30%.

Who is at risk?

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors states that 300,000 commercial properties are at risk of flooding. The effects of flooding and managing flood risk cost the country about £2.2bn a year.

Who and what is at risk?

It is critical that you are well prepared for all weather scenarios as employers have a legal duty to ensure the workplace remains safe. It is vital to have a continuity plan to guarantee arrangements are in place should business be disrupted. We advise businesses to conduct work environment risk assessments. This ensures they can cope with the issues caused by extreme weather conditions.

Volatile weather conditions can cost businesses a lot of money. Damaged assets, lost sales and decreased productivity will affect your bottom line. Although it is impossible to predict the weather, it is possible to minimise the disruption to your business and your employees. This can be done partly through having open channels of communication with staff and having the relevant insurances. Let your staff know what the protocol is when there is bad weather.

Knowledge, preparation and communication

Floods cannot be completely avoided but there are preventive measures that you can take now to minimise damage to your business:

  • Sign up for alerts from the Environment Agency, the National Resources Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to receive timely flood warning messages.
  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment of the premises to identify potential at-risk areas. For any risks identified, devise and put in place an appropriate solution.
  • Have non-return valves installed on drains as well as inlet and outlet water pipes.
  • Provide your employees with flood safety training, which should include how to shut off your building’s gas, electricity and water.
  • Develop a flood contingency plan with your suppliers and clients.
  • Create a comprehensive flood plan. While your plan will be unique to your business, it should at least include the following:
    • A list of important contact information, including Floodline (0845 988 1188) and any more flood warning systems, building services, suppliers and evacuation contacts.
    • A map showing locations of supplies, protective materials and shut-off points.
    • An outline of basic strategies for protecting property, ensuring health and safety, minimising business disruptions and facilitating recovery.
    • Procedural checklists for staff to use during a flood. Protecting your business with expert advice.

Protecting your business with expert advice

As tempting as it might be to think “that’ll never happen to us” investing in business interruption insurance and a business continuity plan can mitigate the recovery of your business. This invaluable cover safeguards your business by covering ongoing expenses and lost gross profit while the permanent business location is being repaired. Business interruption insurance will allow you to maintain fixed ongoing costs such as payroll and, if needed, reallocate current employees to help with the clean-up effort.

Insurers invest heavily in flood data and modelling consultancy. As an experienced and trusted broker we will work with many of these insurers to provide the most suitable insurance product for your business. We will also look at who has historically handled claims well should you be in a high risk area. This may not necessarily be the cheapest but it will be the policy that will consider your individual business, people and assets. We aim to get the best outcome for you should a flood occur.


[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/20/uk-weather-flash-flooding-causes-1m-damage-cornish-village-downpours/