Does your insurance cover damage costs?
All basic commercial policies that businesses are required to have will cover storm damage. It is worth checking your policy as some policies may also pay out for any costs associated with renting other temporary premises if your current premises are required to stay closed for some time while the damage is being repaired.
Additionally, while commercial insurance policies will cover damage to your premises, in the event that your premises damages another business, home, or person you’ll need additional cover.
How does public liability insurance work?
While public liability insurance is not a legal requirement for businesses, it is highly recommended. Your business insurance will protect your building from any damage, but not any other building, possession or person.
Storms are unpredictable and if your business has been damaged, then it is possible that part of the building, such as tiles, guttering, or something more severe may blow off and in turn damage another building or person.
Therefore, in order to protect yourself and not face large bills for any damage caused, make sure you’re covered by public liability insurance.
Karl Bantleman, Head of Digital at Direct365 has provided advice for businesses affected by the ongoing stormy weather:
Follow advice from your local authority: Your local council’s website will provide contact details for anyone affected by the storms. It is important to report any damage to your council at the first instance to ensure that danger to your business and the public is eliminated as soon as possible.
Check your insurance policy: Your commercial insurance policy will state exactly what you are insured for. While all business insurances will cover weather related damage to a certain degree, it is important to check exactly what you are covered for.
If the damage caused to your business means that you are unable to operate, you could be entitled to compensation for money that is lost during this period. This is often an add on to most basic commercial insurances, however, it is worth checking whether your insurance has a clause that covers business interruption due to severe weather damage.
Follow employment legislation: As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. If there is no safe way for your employees to travel, they have the right to take time off as unpaid leave. If however the business is closed as a result of weather related disruption and damage, employers must continue to pay staff while the premises is closed.
Perform a health and safety risk assessment: If your area has been hit by either Storm Isha or Storm Jocelyn, even if no visible damage is evident, it is advised to carry out a risk assessment of the building to ensure that it is safe. You are responsible for your employees, the public, and yourself so it is best to eliminate danger before it worsens.
Check all electricals: Storms are the most common cause of power outages in the UK due to damage to power lines and electrical panels which can create hidden hazards.
While it is the responsibility of the power board to get your power up and running again, the electrics in your premises may have become damaged. Storms can result in a short circuit, which is one of the leading causes of fires. Therefore, it is recommended that your electrics are PAT tested to ensure that they are in safe working order before being used.
Karl Bantleman commented: “As Storm Isha passes through the UK and Storm Jocelyn enters, leaving homes and businesses facing damage to land and property, the focus is necessary beyond financial concerns for businesses. Prioritising safety over profits, it is paramount for businesses to safeguard both their premises and the well-being of employees in the face of potential storm-related damages.
While there may not be physical damage noticeable to your business, storms can lead to increased structural deterioration as well as non-visible damages, such as concealed electrical damage, with the potential for fires. Though conducting thorough checks on your premises may seem an added expense, it will ensure that you and your employees are protected from any potential dangers.”