Winter can be great for business. There’s Christmas, the New Year, and depending on your product or service, it may even be the busiest time of the year. But winter can also see the UK hit by some fairly nasty weather.
If your premises is hit by a storm, which can include snow, a flood, or high winds, it can cause serious damage to your business.
Here’s our guide on how to prepare, and what to do when severe weather hits.
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Preparing your business premises for a storm
Whether you run your business from an office, a storefront, or your own home, there are measures you can take to prepare for severe weather this winter.
Preparing for floods
If your business premises are in an area of the country that’s liable to flood, it might be worth buying specialist flood defence products. Air bricks, sandbags, and pumps are widely available, and could well keep your premises safe.
You can check whether the area you live in is at risk on the Property Care Association’s website.
Preparing for high winds
When it comes to high winds, it’s worth checking that your doors, windows, and roof are all in good working order – or asking your landlord to do so if you rent your business premises.
If you keep anything outside – such as tables and chairs at a cafe, or stock in a shed for a home business – think about bringing these in or securing them in place if there’s a storm warning in your area.
Preparing for snow
Snow and ice can be extremely hazardous for both you and your customers. Gritting pathways and car parks with rock salt before snowfall is often effective at keeping them clear and avoiding slips and falls – if you rent your business premises, find out whether this is your landlord’s responsibility or yours.
Even when pathways are already snowy or icy, rock salt can make them easier to grip and walk on.
Heavy snow can cause damage to your roof, especially if it’s already in poor condition. The roof should be surveyed before cold weather hits to make sure it’s ready and to identify any problems – so it could be a good idea to arrange this if you own your premises, or speak to your landlord if you rent.
Again, you may need to speak to your landlord, but pipes should be insulated and your boiler should be serviced to make sure they can withstand the freezing weather.
What insurance might I need?
Storms and severe weather can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, so make sure you keep receipts for everything associated with your business in case you need to make a claim.
Steps to take if your business premises are hit by a storm
There are a number of measures you can take to minimise damage, but your first priority is keeping yourself and your staff (if you have them) safe.
You should make sure you have plans in place for your staff, knowing in what situations you would send them home (or ask them to stay at home).
Keep well away from flood water, which can be deceptively powerful, and avoid any contact with water or electrics during an electrical storm. If you have staff, send them home in advance where possible.
If there’s a flood warning, you should fit your flood equipment as soon as you can, and if there’s any kind of storm, make sure you turn off your water, gas, and electricity.
If possible, move any equipment or stock you have onto the upper floors of your premises.
Make sure snow is cleared away from pathways and areas where your customers might walk, and salt is on the floor.
Contacting your insurer and making repairs
Only return to your business premises when it’s safe to do so, and make sure you take pictures of all the damage to help support your claim. It’s best to contact your insurer as soon as possible to let them know you’ve been hit by a storm as a delay could affect your claim.
If your property has been damaged and you are the owner, your business buildings insurance could cover the cost of the work that needs to be done. Otherwise, you should contact your landlord and let them know the situation.
Our guide to making a claim will take you through the steps you need to take, including contact details for the Simply Business Claims Team and what to expect once you’ve made your claim.
Have you been affected by a storm? If you’re a Simply Business customer and need to speak to our Claims Team, you can call us 24/7 on 0333 207 0560.