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Storm Dennis: What to do if your business has flooded

With Storm Dennis causing devastating damage across the UK last weekend, Towergate Insurance Brokers are advising on what steps to take if your business has been affected, most importantly taking photos and not to dispose of any damaged items until you have sourced advice from your insurers.

Storm Dennis brought strong winds and heavy rainfall this weekend, leaving thousands of homes and businesses damaged in its wake. As of 23:45 GMT on Sunday, more than 700 flood warnings and alerts have been put in place across the UK, with eight severe flood warnings outlining a threat to life. 54 flood warnings have been put in place across Wales with a yellow weather warning in place for wind for Cardiff, Swansea and the entire Welsh coastline.

For many, when clearing a flooded building their first instinct would be to dispose of anything that has been damaged. Towergate Insurance Brokers would highlight the danger to an insurance claim by doing so without seeking insurers approval and issue some useful steps to follow if your business has been affected by the adverse weather:

1. In severe cases, do not attempt to enter the building

If structural damage has occurred do not attempt to enter the building to retrieve items or assess damage.

Don’t wade through flood water. You could be swept away by rapidly-moving flood waters where currents can be stronger than they look. Also, flood waters can carry debris, chemicals, and sewage which can cause injuries, disease, infection, and that are generally harmful to one’s health.

Don’t handle electrical wires. Always remember that electrical lines and water do not mix. Standing in water and attempting to remove electrical wires is dangerous. Also remember that even if you do not have power in some locations in your business, not all the lines could be dead.

Don’t light candles in a flooded building. It’s very possible that standing flood water could contain oil, gasoline, or other flammable liquids.

2. Notify your insurance company and/or broker

Where damage has been done its important you notify your insurance company as soon as possible. With the high volume of claims being made at this time, insurance settlements may take longer to be processed. Quick notification can aid speedy resolution of your claim. If your building is rented your landlord may have their own building insurance. In this case, you should also contact your landlord directly.

3. Notify your customers

If applicable, notify your customers of the disruption to the business asking them not to attempt to visit the building.

4. Make your own records of flood damage before disposing of anything

Once its secure to enter the building, make the area safe and mitigate any loss as soon as possible by… turning off supplies if needed and arranging temporary repairs to prevent further damage (if the costs here is not much different to the full repair obtain insurer advice).

It would be advisable to record the flood damage yourself. Take photos of the damage, make an inventory and take photos of destroyed items, locate and copy original purchase receipts, and most importantly; do not dispose of any damaged items until you have been given authority by your insurer.

5. Begin to clean up damage and dry out the building

Follow the advice of your insurer/broker regarding the steps that you can take to commence the clean-up and repairs. If your insurer has appointed a loss adjuster or restoration company, then engage with them to agree the programme of restoration.

6. If you have business interruption insurance

Should your policy include business interruption, this may extend to include cover for financial losses (loss of income and/or gross profit) or increased costs of working incurred because of the storm.

Account Executive at Towergate Insurance Brokers, Adrian Bonas, said: “Storm Dennis has had huge impacts on business across the UK and caused devastation to many. At times like this, it’s imperative that businesses are in contact with their insurance providers and follow their advice.

“For anyone who is uncertain about the adequacy of their insurance policy or are seeking advice on what they should have in place to adequately protect their business from future adverse weather events, we are available at Towergate Insurance Brokers to help and offer guidance”.