The most important thing to do is to make sure that you and your employees remain safe. Flood water is often dangerous, due to its speed, depth, hidden obstacles or contamination in the water. Either move to upper parts of the property and call for assistance, or leave the property by a safe, dry route. If anyone remains in the flooded property and the mains electricity supply was not turned off before the flood, do not touch any electrical appliances until you are told it is safe to do so. Remember to call 999 if there is any threat to life.
Once you are in a safe place:
- Notify your insurance company that the property has been flooded. Although you cannot yet identify the damage caused, you can establish whether they will provide alternative work space and emergency funding which may enable your business to continue running.
- Notify your own family and that of any employees with you, so they know where their relative is.
- Implement your business recovery plan
- Notify any customers of the temporary disruption.
- If your insurance company will not cover an alternative work space for you and your employees, you could consider:
- Moving to a new office
- Employees working from home
- Renting another property in the area (as a short term solution).
- Do not return to the property until you are told it is safe to do so.
When you are allowed to return
- Follow these principles.
- Make your own record of the flood damage. More details are available here.
- Contact your insurance company again, if you have one. You may have done this already (to advise them that the property has been affected by flooding and to arrange a temporary alternative workplace) but, once you regain access to the property, you will need to contact them again to arrange for a loss adjuster to visit. and to establish how the claims process works. If the property is rented, it may be the landlords insurer (and loss adjuster) who will be involved in assessing the damage to the building whilst your own insurer will assess the loss of contents, stock, equipment and business interruption. To complete the process you will need to liaise with both insurers.
- Clear away the damaged items that belong to you. Do not remove things that belong to your landlord (if you have one) but liaise with your landlord to get this removed. It is possible that your local authority may offer a collective refuse collection scheme, you may wish to contact them regarding this. To enquire about this, contact your local council.
- If you own or lease the property, start to organise the process of drying out and eventual repair/replacement. If you are a tenant of the property, or only lease part of the building, it is likely to be your landlord who organises this process. Where an insurer is covering part or all of the cost, their loss adjuster will be the main point of contact between you and the insurance company. Although decisions on the claim are the sole responsibility of the insurance company, who will usually still remain in contact with you or the landlord, it is the loss adjuster who you will deal with on a regular basis. So do not commission works until the insurer has agreed. If you are not insured (and own the property), you may start work immediately. More information on the role of loss adjusters and loss assessors is available here.
- Discuss with your insurer and landlord (if any) whether better flood protection can be built in as part of your repairs. If the property is likely to flood again, they may want to do the repair work in a way that helps to reduce the damage that the next flood causes. This can be done by installing Property Level Protection (PLP). Sometimes the insurer will be willing to fund all or part of the cost of that work. More information on the types of PLP available, their cost and suitability, is available here.
You may need your lender’s consent, or consent from your landlord or a superior landlord, for any repairs or replacement of parts of the property, so check your mortgage deed and lease, or call the lender. It is prudent to wait until you have that consent before starting work. More information on things to consider about the clean up, is available here.
Grant funding may be available to help meet the cost of PLP measures. Further information is available here.
There are recognised quality standards for PLP. More information is available here.
If PLP is not sufficient, you or your landlord may want to consider installing a pump to remove any flood water from any basement, under the ground floor or the base of the cavity walls of the property. More information on pumping systems, and other means of water removal means is available here. The landlord may only be willing to install a pump if you pay for it (either directly or through a service charge, where you only rent part of a building).