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Extreme weather events are becoming more regular, is your business prepared?

By Dan Teuton
17 January 2018

Whether you believe in climate change or not, it is clear from the events both at home and abroad that your business needs to be prepared and protected.


Floods, and fires

2017 has seen the UK affected by a number of weather-related incidents. Storm Doris caused major disruption in February. Then spring and early summer saw some of the driest months and hottest days recorded in over 40 years. The UK experienced 47% of the average April rainfall¹. And the mercury at Heathrow hit 34.5°C on June 21². By mid-summer incidents of flash flooding were hitting the length of the UK. On July 18, Coverack in Cornwall experienced “200 Olympic swimming pools”³ of water in a matter of hours, causing over £1 million of damage to buildings. On August 9, a months’ worth of rain deluged towns and villages in the East Riding of Yorkshire and north east Lincolnshire⁴.

Wild weather – the UK gets it all. Why?

Britain’s climate is influenced by systems originating from the Atlantic and the European landmass. This combination results in the unpredictable and wet weather conditions our shores are known for.

When is flood season?

The environment agency advises that floods can happen at any time, however the Met Office Britain has warned of unprecedented rainfall over the next few winters, with predicted records to be broken by up to 30%⁵.

Who and what is at risk?

It is critical that you are well prepared for all weather scenarios as employers have a legal duty to ensure the workplace remains safe. It is vital to have a continuity plan to guarantee arrangements are in place should business be disrupted. We advise businesses to conduct work environment risk assessments. This ensures they can cope with the issues caused by extreme weather conditions.

Volatile weather conditions can cost businesses a lot of money. Damaged assets, lost sales and decreased productivity will affect your bottom line. Although it is impossible to predict the weather, it is possible to minimise the disruption to your business and your employees. This can be done partly through having open channels of communication with staff and having the relevant insurances. Let your staff know what the protocol is when there is bad weather.

Knowledge, preparation, and communication

Floods cannot be completely avoided but there are preventive measures that you can take now to minimise damage to your business:

  • Sign up for alerts from the Environment Agency, the National Resources Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to receive timely flood warning messages.
  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment of your premises to identify potential at-risk areas. For any risks identified, devise and put in place an appropriate solution.
  • Have non-return valves installed on drains as well as inlet and outlet water pipes.
  • Provide your employees with flood safety training, which should include how to shut off your building’s gas, electricity, and water.
  • Develop a flood contingency plan with your suppliers and clients.
  • Create a comprehensive flood plan. While your plan will be unique to your business, it should at least include the following:
  • A list of important contact information, including Floodline (0845 988 1188) and any more flood warning systems, building services, suppliers and evacuation contacts.
  • A map showing locations of supplies, protective materials, and shut-off points.
  • An outline of basic strategies for protecting property, ensuring health and safety, minimising business disruptions and facilitating recovery.
  • Procedural checklists for staff to use during a flood.

Protecting your business with expert advice

As tempting as it might be to think “that’ll never happen to us” investing in a business continuity plan and business interruption insurance can support the recovery of your business. The latter cover can be an invaluable safeguard for your business, for example by reimbursing ongoing expenses and lost gross profit while a permanent business location is being repaired. Business interruption insurance can also be tailored to allow you to maintain fixed ongoing costs such as payroll.



Jelf is a trading name of Jelf Insurance Brokers Ltd (Reg No. 0837227), which is part of Jelf Group plc (Reg No. 2975376) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Registered address: Hillside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6JX (Registered in England and Wales).  Not all products and services offered are regulated by the FCA. JIB260.11.17

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