Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in the UK and so it’s important for businesses to plan ahead for flood risk, both from a protection and safety perspective as well as for recovery.

Until a few days—or even hours—before a flood event, it is almost impossible to predict when a flood will occur that will result in property damage. When it does, it can be extremely costly and recovery can take many weeks or months.

Climate change is making it harder to accurately reflect the chance of a flood event, meaning that flood zones may be also become outdated—further compounding the issue of predictability. Many businesses are still not prepared for this very real threat, especially when it comes to the damage and disruption that extremely high floodwater levels can bring.

One in six UK homes is at risk of flooding.1

More than 436,000 commercial properties in Britain have at least a low flood risk.2

Planning for a flood event

Given the increasing risk of flood events in the UK, it is important to ensure you have a detailed flood risk management plan in place to document how your business would respond. This should include the following:

  • Update your business continuity plan and crisis communication planning checklist.
  • Get your emergency response team together in preparation for a flooding event and assign responsibilities.
  • Keep important records such as site maps, insurance policies, banking account records and computer backups in a waterproof, fireproof container, with a second set of records stored securely off-site.
  • Distribute your internal communication plan to ensure your employees are equipped with up-to-date information and guidance should a flood occur so that they know exactly what to do.
  • Sign up for flood warnings via the government website in order to closely monitor the situation.

When flooding is imminent

If there is little to no warning of a flood event, a clear flood plan will make it easier to put guidance into action quickly. Key actions include:

  • Secure all windows and doors throughout the property.
  • Unplug and secure any large, loose electrical items.
  • Secure as many items as possible, prioritising files, keys and money.
  • Ensure all employees and third parties exit the premises if it is safe to do so.
  • On leaving the building, bring smartphones and laptops, as well as items on your disaster supply list such as torches, battery-operated radios, additional chargers and batteries, water, food and first aid supplies.
  • If immediate evacuation is not possible, assist all staff to the highest point available for access to rescue workers, giving priority to those who are disabled or who have special needs.
  • Check local news reports for up-to-date information.

For tips on how to keep your business moving in the immediate aftermath of a flood event, including making a flood claim, see our article on flood recovery.

Did you know? You can now use the government’s flood risk information service to request flood risk assessment data for planning. The service also allows you to download a printable map showing your flood zone along with guidance specific to your zone.

Business interruption—are you adequately covered?

While it’s important to ensure you have adequate flood insurance in place, many businesses underestimate the time it would take to get back to normal following a flood.

Business owners need to be aware that in the current economic climate, the repair or reinstatement of building structures could be longer than expected due to supply chain issues in the construction industry pushing up repair and recovery times. If the selected business interruption indemnity period is inadequate, it could have a significant financial impact on the business as it will have to recover its losses beyond this point.

It is worth highlighting that even if your own business premises has little to no damage, if the surrounding floodwater prevents safe access for a period of time, this can also lead to severe disruption to your business activities.

Flood risk management

Gallagher provides a risk management service, which includes flood inspection, reporting and surveys. Not only can we help you reduce your flood risk but we can help you negotiate terms to find a suitable solution to meet the needs of your business. We can also support you with your business continuity planning to help strengthen your resilience to these kind of events.

To speak to one of our risk management specialists, please contact our team on 0800 138 7538.


The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.