Owners and property agents of commercial premises along the Cornish coast are assessing the recent storm damage and calculating the cost to their businesses. Members of our Property Management Team have been out surveying the damage to clients' buildings around the coastline, including cafes, restaurants and shops. Associate Nick Maffey, has been to the Fistral Beach International Surf Centre Complex at Newquay examining the building and making sure measures are in place to mitigate against further damage as much as is practically possible in such a hostile environment.
Nick says "Managing a property literally built on a beach always throws unique climatic challenges, but I don't think anyone could have foreseen such severe and protracted weather conditions as we've encountered over the last week. Safety is of paramount importance, so we are liaising with insurers and co-ordinating building repair work to be carried out to the beach front decking and walkways as soon as possible.
Dealing with the effects of weather damage on the business premises means more than just cleaning up the flood damage, you also need to get the business operational as quickly as possible. We are liaising with the tenants, in this case the owners of several retail stores, the Surf Hire Shop, Surf School and café to make sure business continues in a safe and clean environment.
These recent events only serve to illustrate how important understanding the terms and conditions of your insurance policy is and regularly reviewing your sums insured, although some landlords who own businesses which have been repeatedly flooded are finding it increasingly hard to obtain insurance or only on prohibitive terms".
Help could have come from the Government last year when ministers drafted an agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to cover 500,000 homes in areas liable to flooding. Known as Flood Re, the scheme enabled owners of homes at high-risk of flooding to be better protected at a more affordable price. But the property had to be occupied by the policy holder. Landlords of buildings which include shops, cafés as well as privately rented flats did not qualify for financial help.
The Flood Re scheme officially ended in June last year and while the Association of British Insurers (ABI) are working with the Government on a new agreement, the ABI's spokesman has confirmed there are no plans to include commercial premises – so again, landlords are left high and dry.
The Council too have been busy, strategically placing large boulders in front of the damaged area of the building to prevent further sand erosion around the foundations.
Malcolm Tarling Spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers says "whilst we are aware the impact of flood and storm damage to a commercial property can be catastrophic to a business, there are no plans to include commercial properties in Flood Re because we feel cost and availability of insurance is not as big an issue for businesses as it is for individual home owners. Most landlords will obtain comprehensive insurance through a specialist insurance broker".
Meanwhile our Management Team offers this advice to anyone who owns a business which may be affected by floods:
- Even when the flood damage has been repaired, additional costs can include considerations for electrical and gas safety; checking the water supply; and ensuring the business complies with all food safety standards (for businesses in the food industry).
- Use a local insurance broker with a good knowledge of the area and make sure your commercial property flood insurance includes 'business interruption' clauses.
- Sign up to the Environment Agency's Floodline Warnings Direct.
- Consider flood resilience measures which might be appropriate for your property.
For more advice on property management issues contact Nick Maffey on 01872 247028