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Advice for businesses affected by flooding

The recent floods across Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire have hit many small businesses hard. Running a small business is complicated enough without doing battle with Mother Nature.

While it’s not always possible to completely negate the effects of disasters like this, you can minimise the impact on your business by keeping a level head and doing all you can to get back to business as usual as soon as possible.

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FSB Insurance Service has put together the following checklist to help you deal with all the little and not so little things you need to keep track of:

  1. Are services still operating – electricity/gas/water? If not check with your utility company and obtain an estimate of when your supply will be reinstated.
  2. If services are still on, is there a threat from these – e.g. if your property is flooded you should turn off all your amenities at the mains in case of further damage to your property.
  3. Act as if you are uninsured – take urgent decisions on the basis of what is best for your business and what is critical for your business’s survival, not on the basis of what the insurers would want.
  4. If possible move any of your undamaged goods/stock and equipment to higher ground in case of further water rising. If you have a second storey, and there is a clear path to and from, we advise that you move your undamaged property there.
  5. In any event move any undamaged goods/stock away from damaged goods/stock to prevent contamination.
  6. When safe to do so take photographs of the damage (the more the better). This will help assist identifying the true extent of the damage for any insurance claim.
  7. If you have perishable goods/stock that have been saturated with water please try to dispose of it as soon as possible before it becomes a further health hazard. Ensure that you record and photograph all damaged goods that you have disposed of.
  8. If you have any uncertainty regarding the possible health risk of your damaged goods/stock, or if it is even salvageable, please seek the advice from your local Environmental Health Officer. They will inspect your goods and issue you with a certificate for all damaged goods/stock.
  9. When safe to do so please take whatever measures necessary to begin the clean-up of your premises. You do not need to seek permission to do this.
  10. To protect your premises from possible mould growth etc ensure that you ventilate your premises as much as possible.
  11. If you need further assistance with your clean-up operation, or you feel that the task is too large, you can contact specialist damage management, drying and cleaning companies to assist with the pumping out of water and drying of your premises. Details of reputable companies can be obtained from the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) on 07000 843 236 or www.bdma.org.uk.
  12. Do not dispose of anything that may be salvageable, try to store in a safe place away from the damage premises or other damaged goods/stock. You can also obtain further assistance from specialist damage management companies for this.
  13. If your premises are now uninhabitable, and are to be left unattended for any length of time, you must secure your premises as best you can to prevent further loss or damage.
  14. If you are a tenant you should contact your landlord via your normal channels as soon as possible to keep them up-to-date with what is going on with their premises and to request that they take immediate action. Your business will not be able to trade while your premises are out of action so act quickly.
  15. If your premises are now uninhabitable; if possible try to locate suitable alternative premises to continue temporary trading from.
  16. Where possible try to re-allocate internal resources from unaffected areas of your business in order to maintain future sales.
  17. Contact your customers to advise them of your situation, especially where immediate supply of orders is affected and now no longer possible. Seek to reassure them of your long term commitment to them.
  18. Prioritise your key customers when the initial start of your business recovery starts.
  19. Create separate cost codes in your accounts books specific to the flood / storm damage and allocate all related expenditure to this code. This will make tracking of the final costs easier when an insurance claim has been agreed. This is especially important for any additional costs incurred maintaining the business during repairs.
  20. Contact your insurance broker (or insurer if a broker was not used) as soon as possible, they will then be able to provide advice or point you in the right direction for specialist advice.

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