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Do you occupy a commercial property?

The recent weather has seen significant rainfall that looks like it may become a regular occurrence as weather patterns continue to change.

As insurance brokers, we are starting to see the impact of these changes, with more clients feeling the impact of the severe downpours as drainage struggles to cope with the volume of water and the gutters being unable to carry the water away from the roofs of properties without overflowing.

This excess water does of course have to go somewhere, and if your property is in the way, then it can easily find its way into your property. The consequences of water entering a property can be devastating, even if it’s a flash flood that is gone again within a minute or two – by then the damage is done. A gutter that overflows can have a similar impact, with water being forced into a property under overlapping cladding or similar ‘gaps’ in the property.

In a number of cases, it is apparent that with a little bit of work beforehand, the losses could have been reduced or prevented. If you are the property owner, then you can put in place several measures to reduce the chances of a sudden sever downpour, resulting in water entering your premises:

 Establish a maintenance programme for the property;

 Ensure all gutters are free of debris and cleared on a regular basis;

 Are the drains in good condition and able to carry the water away effectively?;

 Do you need to consider upgrading the guttering and drainage?;

 Have you prepared for a possible flood situation – what would you do if it happened;

 Consider having sand bags available or other proprietary products to reduce the chance of water entering your property;

 Don’t assume that because you aren’t in a food zone that water can’t enter your property;

 Check your insurance policy to ensure you comply with any warranties that could impact on your ability to claim if a loss did occur. Do you have a flat roof warranty for example?

It’s important to set up an annual maintenance programme, which may include keeping trees and shrubs clear so that they don’t block drains and gutters, and clearing the gutters after the trees have shed their leaves in the autumn.

Don’t forget, you don’t necessarily have to be living in an area with a high flood risk to experience a flash flood or water coming in from a drainage system that is poorly maintained.

If you are a tenant, you will probably need to engage with your Landlord to ensure they put in place a suitable maintenance programme for the property. It may be that under the terms of the lease you are responsible for the costs, but this can be far better than the devastating effects of your business being interrupted as a result of water damage.

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