Flooding could leave Falkirk businesses high and dry

An insurance expert is warning businesses in the Falkirk area and beyond future flooding could hit them harder than they think if they are not prepared.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 9:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 2:55 pm

Following the publication of a new academic study from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University which predicts a surge in flood events in Scotland in the coming decades, Andy Cooper, of insurance broker Lycetts, said he fears many business owners could be left to foot the bill for potentially huge costs because of exclusions or high excesses for flooding on their insurance policies.

Mr Cooper urged Scottish businesses to take flood risk more seriously, after the Heriot-Watt University report revealed the country could see flood events increase by a third by 2080.

He said: “Flood risks are increasing and what many business owners do not realise is that, although some protection can be provided for homeowners as part of the government’s Flood RE initiative, this does not apply to commercial businesses.

The risk of flooding is on the increase and businesses have to be prepared

“Many businesses are at risk of being left ‘high and dry’ and losing everything. What you tend to find in flood-affected areas, after the first flood, insurers will raise the premium for flood cover, increase the flood excess or exclude flood risk altogether.”

Mr Cooper warned against complacency, highlighting it is not just properties that have been flooded in the past or are located near waterways that are at an increased flood risk.

“Towns are expanding and new developments are cropping up, which leads to a loss of grass to absorb rainwater and an additional strain being put on the drainage system. Add climate change into the mix, and the heavy deluge of rainwater that comes with it, and you have a precarious situation.”

Insurance pay outs to help customers recover from 2020’s Storm Ciara and Dennis was initially estimated to top £360 million, according to Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The estimated total payout for flood claims came to £214 million, with commercial property flood claims making up £85 million of the total amount.

Mr Cooper said: “There are a number of ways that businesses can help reduce their premiums – firstly by making their property more flood resistant and resilient and secondly, by going down a less traditional insurance route.

“There are a number of flood products that help keep flood water out of business premises, such as flood boards, flood proof doors or barriers and sandbags. Check for kite-marked products, which are usually favoured by insurers.

“Measures to make the inside of the property more resilient to flood-water include sump pump systems, water compatible walls and floors, raised electrics and flood alarm systems.

“A flood risk mitigation survey is also useful, as it can help businesses to determine what can be done to reduce exposure to flood damage, confirm that any existing flood measures have been fitted correctly by the installer, and, in turn, help reduce premiums.

Locally the £220 million Grangemouth Flood Protection Scheme (GFPS) aims to keep both residential and businesses premises safe – providing 17 miles of new flood defences to protect Grangemouth, Carron and New Carron, Carronshore, Langlees and parts of Stirling Road in Camelon.

The project, largely funded by the Scottish Government, will take over ten years to complete.