Your Business Premises – Weathering The Winter Without Making A Claim

British storms are making a name for themselves in more than one way this winter. First it was Angus, then came Barbara and Conor, and we have just seen dear Doris come and go. All brought heavy rainfall, high winds, and flooding – which ultimately had a big impact on properties all over the UK.

In the winter storms last year 4,600 businesses were flooded (1), with total claims from the incidents topping £100m. (2)
While storms of this magnitude are devastating when they hit your home, when they affect your business too, the losses can be even harder to recover from. We share some insights into what you should be aware of when the weather threatens to cause damage to your business, and what to do should the worst happen.

Be Prepared
weather-vane-711082_1920 (1)The first step in protecting your business from loss is to manage your risk and reduce the likelihood of making a claim. This is where some thorough property maintenance comes in.

• If you have water damage from a previous incident – get it fixed so that the fabric of your building is as strong as possible.
• Lag your pipes to reduce the risk of a pipe bursting.
• Ensure the performance of fire protection systems are not compromised by inadequate insulation or too little heating.
• Check flat roofs to ensure nothing is going to come off in a high wind, and that the chance of water coming in is as close to nil as possible.
• Make sure the flashing is adequately secured and in good condition.

Even high winds well below hurricane intensity can cause inadequately secured or badly designed flashing to fail. If the flashing fails, it is likely that there will be damage to the roof covering and insulation, resulting in water leaks and damage to the interior.

If a storm is forecast to hit the area in which you operate – take precautions, don’t just hope for the best. This could include:

• Installing shutters or boarding up windows.
• Placing sandbags in areas vulnerable to flooding.
• Moving vehicles to higher ground.
• Keeping business critical equipment and documents on upper floors.

Finally, make sure you are sufficiently insured. The key is to ensure that the overall sum insured is adequate to repair any damage, or reinstate or replace any property destroyed by such an event. It is wise to note that the more you do to reduce the risk, the more chance you have of getting a competitively priced policy, cutting your premiums or your excess.

If you are prepared you will:
• Reduce the risk of financial losses.
• Limit the damage to your physical assets such as property and stock.
• Minimise disruption to your business continuity.
• May be able to cut your premiums or excess.

What To Do If Your Business Premises Is Affected By Bad Weather

In the unfortunate event that high winds, freezing conditions or flooding have affected your business premises – follow these steps:

• Immediately take photographs – smartphone images are acceptable for insurance claims.
• Create a written record of damages and losses incurred.
• Report the damage to your insurer or broker as soon as possible.
• Ask your broker or insurer to confirm your excess.
• Get an expert to come in to give an estimate for repairs.
• Weigh up if it is worth paying the excess in light of the cost of the repairs.

It is important to remember that wear and tear isn’t covered under any insurance policy, and general maintenance isn’t covered – especially on a property. As such, it is advisable to do everything you can to minimise the risk of loss even after an incident. This means do what you can to stop the water dripping, block up a hole temporarily – in fact, act as if you are uninsured and need to do everything you can to minimise the loss.

For more advice about getting Business Insurance that will see your property protected throughout bad weather, call us on 01245 500433.