As unpredictable weather that causes flooding becomes more commonplace, it’s not just homes that are at risk. Businesses stand to lose much more in a flood than any homeowner would.
Think about your operations, your equipment, inventory, building, supply chain – all of it can be damaged in a flood. While it may be almost impossible to avoid flooding if you are in a flood plain and the rivers breach the levees, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the resulting damage and make sure you have proper coverage.
If you are in an area that could be susceptible to flooding, be sure to address any flood-related risks to your business.
Assess your property – Inspect your property for areas where flooding could pose a problem. Look for low-lying areas in particular, and make any necessary repairs or amendments as needed.
Take extra precautions for basements – If your commercial property has a basement, you should make sure to caulk cracks, patch foundation walls, and install a sump pump to help keep the building dry.
Add flood-proofing – If flooding has been a problem in the past, consider flood-proofing your property. Just as it sounds, flood-proofing provides protection to your building from water-related damage. This includes applying a waterproof coating or covering to your property’s exterior walls to keep flood water from seeping in.
Improve landscaping – Elevation is your friend when the rain starts to fall. Properly landscape the exterior of your building to allow water to run down and away from the property foundation. Also, relocate downspouts so that water from the roof flows away from the property.
Design and construction – If possible, take precautionary measures for flooding during the design and construction of your building, especially if you are located along the coastline or in a flood plain. While some design elements cannot be totally flood-proof, it can help minimize the damage. Other tips:
- Consider elevating your building if in a flood-prone area.
- Apply waterproof coating to help prevent water from seeping in.
- Install hurricane-glass windows and storm shutters for the openings in your building.
Elevate your HVAC system – Follow these tips to protect your HVAC equipment:
- If you live in a flood plain, you should elevate your heating and air conditioning system on top of bricks or blocks to prevent it from being flooded.
- Protect your outdoor HVAC units by tightening bolts and securing a cover.
- When in doubt, cut the power to your HVAC to prevent electrical surges.
Clean your gutters – If you know a storm is coming, have someone clean out gutters, downspouts, and any drains on the exterior of your buildings. This will help prevent water from backing up into your property.
Prepare your ground floor – If you know floods are coming, you can minimize damage to your property by preparing your ground floor, which will stand the most chance of being inundated:
- Reduce the chances of an electrical fire or electrocution by turning off the power to the bottom floor with a circuit breaker.
- Caulk cracks and patch foundation walls.
- Move out belongings, furniture and anything else that can be damaged by flood water.
Many commercial property owners mistakenly believe that their only option for flood insurance coverage is through a National Flood Insurance Program policy, a program operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But, NFIP policies are rarely the best option for businesses as they provide very limited coverage:
- They do not cover anything outside the four walls of the building.
- They are “direct-loss” policies, meaning they will only cover damages directly touched by flood waters.
- They have very limited recourse in the event the claim is not handled correctly.
- They have little oversight and there is little incentive to properly address the claim.
Fortunately, many private flood insurance companies offer broader coverage in the event of a flood. The advantage of a policy from a private insurer is that you can often get higher policy limits, as well as wider coverage that covers outside structures and business interruption.
If you want more information, give us a call!