Flood Insurance issues

Our columnist Sam Leeder shares his insurance advice with those affected by the recent flooding

As South Yorkshire has once again been hit by terrible flooding, our thoughts go out to the many people who have to move out of their ruined homes for Christmas and for many months to come.

Whilst the £20m spent in flood defences in Sheffield has saved many businesses and homes from devastation, it does seem to have moved the problem further down river to Rotherham and Doncaster – impacting in many of the same places that were affected in 2007.

Whilst the clean up is ongoing and no doubt there will be significant debate in the future about the best way to protect the areas going forward, it is worth considering the future insurability of homes and businesses in these particular areas.

In respect of Home Insurance thankfully there is a scheme called Flood Re, which is a joint initiative between the government and insurers to make the flood cover element of household insurance more affordable and provide cover to more households than would be covered otherwise.  For more information visit www.floodre.co.uk.  Therefore most householders should be able to obtain cover although it may be expensive.

Businesses in flood affected areas however could find obtaining flood insurance more difficult.  There is no Flood Re scheme in respect of commercial insurance and therefore insurance companies must assess whether they are willing to provide cover.  From experience following the 2007 event, this could be almost impossible for some businesses.

With no guarantee of being able to purchase flood insurance, it is therefore important to consider what flood mitigation measures can be put in place to protect the future of your business.

Things to consider:

  • Water ingress
    • Can measures be implemented to prevent water entering your property in the first place? There are now a number of temporary barrier solutions that can be put in place when bad weather is forecast that can be effective.
    • Depending on the value of the contents of the property you may want to consider more permanent changes to your property, including retaining walls or earthworks to direct water away from the building or hold it at bay.
  • Property resilience
    • Drying out a property following a flood can be a big issue, therefore consider applying a water resistant plaster to the walls and consider the type of flooring in the property. Whilst this won’t stop water getting in it will improve the speed at which you are back up and running.
  • Siting of critical equipment
    • When looking at the layout of a factory or an office it is important to consider where the essential services or business critical items are located. Often the mains electrical board or a server room are located under stairs or in a back room somewhere on the ground floor.  If these items are wiped out in a flood they could cause a severe and unnecessary interruption to the business.

Many of these things are straight forward and just require some thought and planning to ensure that should the worst happen – whilst it won’t be pleasant – it’s not going to shut the business down permanently.

If you want more advice on flood resilience, please feel free to get in touch.