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4 Steps for Preparing Your Small Business for Spring Floods in Alberta

Business Insurance

By Samantha Lemna | April 22, 2019

Thanks to snowmelt and precipitation spring and early summer have a high risk for flooding. Beyond the physical threat to your business premises and stock it can also interrupt your business operations. Even if your business is safe from floodwaters you may need to close due to an evacuation order staffing issues or transportation delays. Effective preparation can help protect your business and minimize damage and disruptions to your operations. Here are the key steps:

  • Identify the Risks
  • Build a Response Plan
  • Prepare and Protect Your Business
  • Take Action in an Emergency
  • Identifying the Risks

    Flooding can affect your business even if you’re nowhere near a water source. Flooding is generally caused by rapid or a large amount of snowmelt or high levels of precipitation. The situation is exacerbated when both occur at the same time. Additional damage can occur when there are drainage obstructions caused by manmade construction landslides a buildup of debris or ice or beaver dams.

    It isn’t just overflow of lakes rivers and other bodies of water that you need to worry about. Low-lying or poorly draining areas are also at risk for flooding during periods of high precipitation. Sewer back up damage can also affect your business if there is nearby flooding. Where the water comes from does matter –especially when it comes to insurance.

    So how do you identify what level of risk your business faces?

    First you’ll want to find out what theflood hazard of your locationis. Your municipal website may have more detailed information about risks such asCalgary’s flood maps. Remember that the chance of flooding depends on the severity of the flood – you may be perfectly safe in a minor flood event but a major one could leave you with a lot of damage.

    Second you’ll want to evaluate the drainage of the area around your business. Here are things to watch out for:

    • Improper grading (sloping ground towards the building)
    • Eavestroughs are inadequate blocked or dirty or drain towards the building
    • Standing water more than 24 hours after rainfall
    • Accumulated debris such as leaves
    • Previous water or moisture damage in or around the building

    It’s important to address these issues sooner rather than later. Of course that depends on if you own the building and property where your business resides. If you don’t communicate your issues to the building management and your landlord. It may help to get other businesses involved.

    Build a Response Plan

    There are two steps to building a response plan:

  • A plan to address the risks identified.
  • An emergency plan in the event of a flood.
  • If you identify any risks to your business look into available methods of fixing or mitigating those issues. For example sewer backup is something many businesses will be at risk for. Here are some options you can look into toreduce the risk of sewer backupto your business:

    • Sewer backup insurance
    • Drain and toilet plugs
    • Backflow valves
    • Sump pumps

    Remember this is just the planning stage where you’re looking into your options on how you can address your risks.

    An emergency response plan is what you will do in the event of a flood. Include where you will operate in the event you cannot reach your usual premises an evacuation plan and a shelter-in-place plan. You’ll also want to put together an emergency contact list and decide how you will protect critical elements of your business such as data and stock. You can include things like immediate flood preparation like sandbagging as well. Here’s agreat template to get you started.

    Prepare and Protect Your Business

    Now it’s time to implement your plan to address the risks you identified above. You’ll also want to circulate your emergency response plan and ensure all employees are aware of what it is and how to execute it. Get everything in place before you need it.

    This is also where you shouldlook at your insurance. Many business owners are unaware that flood protection may not be included in their base coverage: it’s often sold as an endorsement (add-on). Here are the three main types of coverage you should consider:

    • Sewer Backup
    • Overland Water
    • Business Interruption

    Sewer backup coverageoffers protection when sewers or drains back up causing “grey water��? to enter your place of business from sinks showers toilets and drains. This generally causes damage to floors plumbing and anything else it touches.

    Overland water coverageprotects against traditional flood events such as the overflow of rivers and other bodies of water and water accumulation due to snowmelt and heavy rainfall. As long as the water enters from above ground it is considered “overland.��? This is often sold as a package with sewer backup coverage.

    Business interruption insurance will provide you compensation for lost income or losses due to an evacuation order or your business is damaged due to an insured flood event. This isgreat coverage for small business ownersthat extends far beyond flooding.

    Talk to your insurance brokerabout your coverage options. Remember that insurance is ever-evolving. It’s important to review your insurance yearly to see if your coverage has changed your insurance needs have grown or if there is an insurance product better suited to you and your company.

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