Insurance · 2 November 2016

Small businesses call for greater flood insurance backing this winter

flood insurance
The affordability of flood insurance remains a major issue for smaller firms

A group of MPs has called for greater support for small business owners who can’t afford flood insurance, following the release of a new government report.

Research from the environment, food and rural affairs committee has identified a significant problem amongst small firms being able to protect business premises against flood damage, and has issued targeted advice to business owners and third party insurers.

Via a new online platform, company owners can gain access to advice on what actions to take if their premises are in danger of imminent flooding, as well as which precautionary measures will best protect their property.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the UK’s most prominent insurance association, has produced a new guide to coincide with the launch of the platform, for insurers around the country to circulate.

In a statement, floods minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Property-level measures are key to ensuring those who are unfortunate enough to suffer flooding can get back in their businesses sooner and minimise the impact.

Small business bodies have welcomed the committee’s call for greater flood-related support. National chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said: “As winter approaches, it’s urgent that we find a solution for thousands of small firms which currently struggle to find affordable flood insurance.

“They shouldn’t be forgotten about,” he added. “If they continue to be locked out of the insurance market, these businesses will close or move elsewhere, causing community flood blight.”

Cherry encouraged the government to develop a grants scheme to help small business owners install “flood resilience measures”, and suggested it assess whether a government-funded small business flood insurance offering might be necessary in years to come.

“We also want to see insurance premiums reduced for firms who invest in flood resilience,” Cherry went on to say. “ultimately, the insurance industry needs to find a way to provide affordable cover to those who need it most.”

Earlier this year, another report from the cross-party House of Commons audit committee highlighted the “reactive nature” of government flood defence spending.

MPs raised doubts about the efficacy of the government’s plan to use £2.3bn to protect 300,000 UK homes and businesses from flooding by 2021, suggesting that the lack of a long-term multi-agency plan was putting small firms at risk.

Small business risk is at a four-year low despite Brexit uncertainty.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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