The people of Cumbria are again struggling to cope with the aftermath of severe winter weather. This time it was caused by Storm Desmond, which brought one month’s average rainfall in just 24 hours on Saturday 5 December.
Figures are unclear at the moment: the government estimates more than 2,000 Cumbrian properties are flooded, but the Cumbria police say it’s around 4-5,000. As local communities pull together to cope, the region’s Chamber of Commerce is offering essential advice for business owners struggling to get through yet another major weather-related incident.
To support businesses, the Chamber is offering advice to help them recover. The Chamber said that the advice was originally offered as part of the 2010 Flood Recovery Grants scheme, when more than £1 million was offered to around 214 firms to help them get back to business.
“Cumbria County Council said damage estimated at £124m was caused to shops, farms and factories during last year's floods.”
BBC News website, November 2010
Although the Chamber is currently assessing the damage to businesses, it’s yet to be confirmed whether it will again offer financial support for businesses.
As businesses start cleaning up on Monday, throwing out ruined stock and beginning the process of recovery, the guidance on dealing with insurance and finance, and other essential issues, will no doubt be invaluable once again. Below are just a few of the Chamber’s pointers, and additional details on preparing for an emergency are available on the Cumbria County Council website: www.cumbria.gov.uk/emergencyplanning/business.asp.
- Notify your insurer / claim consultant as soon as possible.
- What does / doesn’t your insurance cover – including business interruption?
- What does your insurer need from you and when?
- What can / can’t you do without prior authorisation from your insurer?
- What are the expected timescales involved?
- Allow yourself time to calm down before answering any questions from insurers or their representatives.
- Seek professional advice before making / signing any witness statements.
- Don’t appoint any professional who come offering their services in the immediate aftermath.
- Document all losses with photographs or video and keep a record of everything that happens and don’t dispose of or move anything until advised to do so by your insurer / claim consultant.
- Keep a careful track of all losses and damage-relate expenditures.
- Make notes of the following to assist insurers in your claim:
- time of flood warning
- time the flood waters entered your business
- Secure the site - close up building openings and physically secure your property (e.g. board up broken windows) to prevent additional rain damage and looting.
- Ask your insurance company about an interim payment if this will help you replace required / stock and / or carry out repairs so that you can secure your property and resume trading.
- Prepare a revised cash flow forecast, taking into account trading requirements as well as insurance.
- Contact your bank and accountant.
- In consultation with your accountant, considered options like requesting a deferment of VAT / NIC / PAYE payments and changes to non-essential expenditure.
Advisers are also available, free of charge, to help businesses deal with the immediate impact and support them through steps to recovery. Call 0844 257 8450 or email email@example.com.