No matter how robust your flood preparedness plan, you can’t stop Mother Nature. While you may have systems in place to minimise the physical damage from a flood, reacting quickly after a flood event is also crucial.

If your business is subject to flooding, it could take more than a mop and bucket, and several days with a dehumidifier to get back to business as usual. As the UK gets to grips with extreme weather patterns, and river and coastal flooding becomes more common, business owners need to think strategically about recovery and survival.

After a flood event:

61% of commercial properties require a clean-up

49% need their electrics rewired

47% need equipment replaced/repaired

Source: 2022 Commercial Risk Report: Key findings - FloodFlash

Examine your building’s structure

If access to your building is possible, start from outer structure(s) and take photos as you go.

  • Inspect your property externally for immediate dangers or damage.
  • Secure any unsafe areas with caution tape and keep these areas cordoned off until a determination is made regarding safety.
  • If it is safe to go inside, do not turn on the lights. Use torches to examine walls, floors, doors and windows to ensure the building is not in obvious danger of collapsing.
  • Avoid areas with flooded electrical circuits and appliances until the power has been cut off.
  • Inspect the foundations for cracks and other signs of damage, paying particular attention to retaining walls.
  • Watch and listen for leaking gas pipes, electricity cables or flammable materials in the water (such as fuel).
  • Complete and submit a claim form at the earliest opportunity with as much photographic evidence as possible for your insurance broker.
  • Even if the power is still on, limit your use of mobile phones and battery-operated radios to preserve their battery life in case power failure occurs.

Contact the appropriate people and services

Based on your review of the property, you may need to contact some or all of the following:

  • Emergency services such as the fire department and utilities companies.
  • A security company should you require surveillance due to significant damage to the property that may allow entry to trespassers (and supply a list of approved employees).
  • Your insurance broker so that an adjuster can be sent to the site. If you are a Gallagher customer and have Business Assist cover, then contact the helpline for one of our internal former loss adjusters to help you prepare your claim.
  • Professional services that can help reduce further damage, such as cleaning companies, electricians, plumbers and biohazard companies, to help reduce further damage/issues that may result from standing water.

Prepare for future flood events swiftly

Immediately after a flood can be the best time to plan ahead for a similar event while the problems you are experiencing are fresh in your mind.

  • Review your flood plan, identify areas for improvement, and update as necessary.
  • Replace and restock items on your disaster supply list.
  • Carry out the necessary mitigation measures as directed by your broker or insurer.
  • Review your overall business continuity plan, including your supply chain resilience, to see if your arrangements are fit for purpose.
  • Consider whether your indemnity period on your business interruption insurance policy is sufficient should your business experience another flooding event of similar or greater impact.

Prepare what you need to make a flood claim

Before a commercial flood insurance claim can be initiated:

  • Provide your claims handler with as much detail as possible, such as:
    • Preliminary damage assessment report with documented photos and/or videos of the damage.
    • Interior and exterior asset inventory with pre-flood photos and/or videos, if possible.
  • Identify and sort damaged versus undamaged contents, equipment and stock.
  • Secure your premises to prevent further loss or damage.

Things to note during the claims process:

  • During and immediately after a flood event, there will likely be a high-volume claim reporting period and the adjuster assignment may take some time.
  • Access to the flooded areas may be limited for a period of time until the water recedes and it is common to have standing water that becomes polluted, potentially causing further issues.
  • If you need to repair any buildings, competition for labour and materials will be high in an already challenging construction sector, where supply chain issues are still being felt.
  • If you are already a Gallagher client, your Gallagher representative is here to assist and ensure you are in control of the claim progress—including working closely with your claims adjuster.

1 in 4 businesses that flooded in the past 10 years experienced a prolonged period of business interruption.1

40% of small businesses close for good after a catastrophic flood.2

How robust is your business continuity plan?

Being impacted by a flood is a real test of your organisation’s business continuity plan and sometimes it’s not until an unexpected event occurs that you realise there are areas where improvement may be necessary. If you would like our specialist Risk Management team to work alongside you in reviewing your plan, you can find out more on our business continuity planning page or get in touch with us directly 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.