We can't deny the effects of global warming. Strong winds and flooding are becoming much more commonplace here in the UK; and combined with the already unpredictable British weather, it means we have to be savvy when it comes to winter-proofing your property.
The main effect of severe winter weather is damage to residential and commercial properties, so this means landlords, business owners, and homeowners may all be affected. Here are our top tips to help get your business or property ready for winter:
* Have regular roof inspections carried out, to ensure satellite dishes, chimneys, water towers etc are properly fixed, and that roof tiles are secure.
* Ensure outer fences, walls, gates, and perimeters are secure.
* If your property is located near large trees, have these inspected and maintained annually. Park vehicles away from trees, especially in high winds.
* Don't leave objects or equipment lying around outside. Lock everything away inside the premises or in a warehouse/garage.
* If driving is essential then check forecasts and plan ahead
* Check pipes are properly insulated, especially outdoor pipes and taps. Make sure you know where the stopcock is located.
* Check gutters, pipes and drains are in good working order and are free from blockages.
* Keep a list of local plumbers, gas engineers, and other tradesmen you might need.
* Ensure outdoor lighting is sufficient for visitors to gain access when daylight hours are reduced.
* Consider anti-slip mats or flooring. Also, ensure that "wet floor" signs are available and used when necessary.
* Grit pathways and remove snow so visitors can still easily access your premises.
* Have an emergency plan in place, and instruct employees/tenants what to do in an emergency situation.
* Keep insurance documents in a safe place, which is easy to reach in an emergency situation.
* Put together an emergency kit, containing items you may need in an emergency, such as a torch and first aid kit.
What to do if your premises are affected
First of all, you will have to contact your insurance company (companies) as soon as possible after any damage takes place. They may send out a Loss Adjuster to calculate the cost of repairs and advise how much of this will be covered by your insurance policy.
Depending on your policy (policies) the insurance company may arrange for contractors to come in and carry out the repair work, or you may have to obtain a number of estimates and arrange this on your own. It is important that you confirm the insurers will pay for any work you have arranged, prior to the work being carried out. Of course, you must retain all receipts and copies of communications.
If the damage to your property is on a larger scale, then you may need to move out, move operations elsewhere or suspend trading until the repairs can be carried out. It is important to perform regular risk assessments and review your disaster recovery plan regularly, so you have a plan of action for this type of situation.
Having adequate insurance for your business also helps speed up the recovery time and ensures any disruption is minimal.
What types of insurance do I need?
All business sectors may potentially be affected, including property owners, retailers (shops, cafes, salons & restaurants), offices, and manufacturers or wholesalers. Your buildings insurance policy will cover the premises against damage from winds, floods, and ice. There are, however, a number of other insurance policies you may not have considered, which are equally as important in protecting your business or property this winte
Insurance of stock/contents
Imagine your premises was flooded, and all of your stock was ruined. Buildings insurance would only protect the structure of your property; not any of the contents or fixtures and fittings.
* Insurance of machinery or plant
If you rely on specialised machinery in the day-to-day running of your business, then this may have to be specified on the policy. For example, a manufacturing company may rely on production machinery in order to manufacture a product. If a machine was damaged in a flood or fire, then production would cease until the machine was repaired/replaced.
* Public and Property Owners liability insurance
This type of insurance covers the legal costs, should an employee or member of the public sustain an injury while on your premises, or on site. For example, strong winds may blow off a roof tile, or someone may slip and fall on a wet floor.
* Business interruption insurance
If your property was damaged, and you were unable to operate your business, business interruption insurance would cover costs for an indemnity period, allowing you to arrange repairs and get your business back on track. Often, businesses opt for a 12-month indemnity period, but really you should consider a longer period of 18-24 months.
* Loss of rent
For landlords, loss of rent insurance helps cover costs should your property become damaged to the extent that it's not fit for habitation. This provides vital cover, paying the rent whilst the premises is unoccupied. Again, it may be wise to consider a longer indemnity period than the standard 12 months. If your property is flooded it can often take more than 12 months to get the property ready for renting out,
To discuss insurance options for your business this winter, please get in touch. Here at the Insurance Knight Consultancy we have access to a variety of brokers to meet all of your insurance needs and can offer expert advice and tailored policies to suit your business.