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    Protecting your business from water damage

    Owning a business comes with many risks. Some can be preventable, but others are unavoidable. Water damage is one of the risks of owning and running a business. On average, properties are ten times more likely to suffer from water damage than fire damage, and the average loss caused by flood damage is £28,000 for a business compared to £1,033 for a burglary.

    To prevent water damage from affecting your business, you first must understand how to prevent it.

    The different types of water damage

    Water damage can impact your business in various ways. Here are a few areas to look out for:

    1. Being close to sea/river/lakes that are prone to flooding

    The most common cause of flooding and damage to business property is down to the location of your business premises and the weather. Especially if your business is near a river or lake that's prone to flooding and doesn’t have efficient flood defences. Flooding can cause instant damage to your premises, it can damage stock and business equipment, and can also cause your business to close while the damage is resolved.

    2. Burst water mains

    Even if your business isn't based near water, there's still a risk of burst water mains, which can damage your business premises, equipment and stock.

    3. Poor drainage

    If the building your business resides in has poor drainage, then this can cause flooding. It may not be noticeable instantly, but over time this can cause damage.

    4. Blocked pipes

    Blocked pipes can also cause flooding with leaks. Water damage from leaks and blocked pipes can also cause issues such as mould.

    5. Damage to roof or windows

    If the roof or windows aren’t well maintained, then they can leak, especially if there is bad weather, or if you have a flat roof. Damage can happen slowly over time, which can lead to larger problems and more leaks.

    How to prevent water damage

    In most cases, there are ways you can prevent water damage to your business. Here is how you can protect your business from water damage.

    Choose a premise that has a low risk of flooding

    When choosing a location to rent or purchase for your business, you should research the area to understand whether it’s prone to flooding. Typically, anywhere that is downhill and is close to water or has a poor drainage system is prone to flooding. It's best to carry out a full environmental survey that checks for flooding issues before committing to a lease or purchase.

    Keep drains and pipes well maintained and clear of blockages

    Protect your business by maintaining the pipes in your business premises. These pipes include keeping dishwashers, sinks and toilets clear of any blockages. If blockages go unresolved, the leaks can become worse and more costly over time. Sinks, dishwashers and toilets are usually shared between people in your business. It is therefore important to have policies in place to prevent blockages, so people are aware of how to prevent them from happening.

    Properly manage your fire sprinkler system to ensure it isn’t faulty

    Some business spaces come fitted with sprinkler systems for fire safety, however, if these aren’t well maintained, then they can become faulty and unexpectedly go off – causing damage to your business. If faulty sprinklers flood your business, then not only will any stock or equipment be damaged, but you may also have to close your business temporarily while you sort the flood out. Closing your business will mean a potential loss of income.

    Complain to the landlord or have drainage updated to suit the usage of the building

    Depending on where the issue is, you can complain to your landlord, council or water provider if your drainage system needs updating. Having a decent drainage system will help improve the speed of drainage and help to prevent flooding.

    Make sure your office building is structurally sound and waterproof

    If your business isn’t structurally sound and waterproof, you may notice issues with leaks, especially during bad weather. Leaks may not cause immediate damage, but if it doesn't get fixed, it can cause issues such as mould and rotting wood, which will create an unhealthy environment for your employees, and potentially cause you to close your business while you get the issues fixed.

    Recovering after water damage

    You need to have the correct insurances in place to protect your business from any losses that will impact the profitability of your business.

    Business interruption insurance

    Business interruption insurance is available for business owners to help cover the losses that are a direct consequence of a business interruption such as:

    • Loss of rental income
    • Loss of revenue from close premises due to an accident (floods, fire and structural issues)
    • It also helps cover additional staff costs

    Buildings and contents insurance (if you own the property)

    If you own the premises that you work in, then you will also need building insurance. Building Insurances covers most costs for damage repair caused by floods, fire and other accidents that can damage the property.

    The best way to prevent any water damage is to properly maintain the building and have adequate insurance to cover any losses to protect you from any eventualities.

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