In recent years, the UK weather has become more extreme and more unpredictable than ever before, with flood stories now a frequent feature of nationwide news reports.
During 2012, authorities were put on heightened flood alert at least once every three days and 8,000 homes were damaged by floodwater, while November and December together saw the Environment Agency issue a record 1,000 flood warnings. Following the wettest year on record, Charles Tucker, chairman of the National Flood Forum, warned: "Flooding can now strike anywhere, and it needs to be recognised as the number 1 national emergency happening now."
In an already difficult economy, flooding poses a particularly unwelcome extra risk to small businesses. Flood damage can take months to repair, and this can be a fatal blow to an independent business. As well as damage to premises and equipment, stock stored on-site or in warehouses may be lost to floodwater damage, while business owners might also find that they cannot trade whilst damage is being repaired. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that the 2008 SME Business Flood Survey found that 80% of businesses that experience flooding close within two years as a direct result of the flood event. This alarming figure highlights how important it is for small business to have proper office insurance to protect equipment or wholesaler insurance for warehouses to protect against damage to stock.
If you are an independent or small business owner, you need to be prepared. The first thing that you should check is whether your business is located on a flood plain - the Environment Agency’s ‘What’s in your backyard?’ is a useful website that provides information on which areas are vulnerable to coastal and river flooding. It is also sensible to sign up for the Environment Agency’s Floodline service to receive advanced warning of river and coastal floods - call 0845 988 1188 to receive free flood messages for your area. You should consider taking out the right insurance; office insurance helps businesses to return to normal as quickly as possible in the event of flood damage, allowing business owners to get on with trading with complete peace of mind.