Flooding has become an increasingly regular occurrence in the UK, requiring businesses to be prepared and have a strategy in place before and after a flood occurs.

With the growing risk of floods, it’s vital for businesses to have a comprehensive plan in place to mitigate the impact of such events. By taking proactive measures and implementing effective flood preparedness plans, businesses can minimise damage, ensure continuity of operations, and swiftly recover in the aftermath of a flood.

Flood risk today

According to the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), the period from July to December 2023 was the rainiest on record in the UK since 18901. Climate change makes it harder to predict and prepare for floods, and flood zones may become outdated, worsening the problem. Many businesses are unprepared for the extensive damage and disruption caused by high floodwater levels.

Planning for a flood event

Preparation is key to protect your business from flooding. Having a detailed flood risk management plan in place is crucial and 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, follow the steps below:

  • Secure all windows and doors throughout the property and 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.
  • Upon 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.

What to do after the flood

  • Examine your building's structure, starting from the outer structure(s), and take photos as you go if access is possible.
  • Inspect your property externally for immediate dangers or damage.
  • Secure any unsafe areas with caution tape and keep them cordoned off until safety is determined.
  • If it is safe to enter, avoid turning on the lights and use torches to examine walls, floors, doors, and windows for any obvious signs of collapse.
  • Avoid areas with flooded electrical circuits and appliances until the power has been cut off.
  • Inspect the foundations for cracks and other indications of damage, paying close attention to retaining walls.
  • Be vigilant for leaking gas pipes, electricity cables, or flammable materials in the water, such as fuel.
  • Submit a claim form promptly to your insurance broker, including as much photographic evidence as possible.
  • Even if the power is still functioning, limit the use of mobile phones and battery-operated radios to preserve their battery life in case of a power failure.
  • Contact the appropriate individuals and services for further assistance.

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.

Commercial flood claim

Before a commercial flood insurance claim can be initiated, consider the below and provide your claims handler with as much detail as possible:

  • 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.

Next steps…

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. Get in touch today: 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.