Following the flash floods in London last year, it was reported that the London fire brigade said it had taken around 300 calls – mostly about flooded basements or roads. Furthermore, Loss adjusters since identified several claims worth in excess of £100,000 connected to properties with extensive basements. Obviously basements and lower ground floors are more likely to suffer from flood damage and in some cases, a significant amount of critical plant, services and equipment is located. It is therefore the starting point when considering adequate flood prevention and protection.

Our insurer partner Zurich has revealed flooding from torrential rain threatens 42% of London’s 301,000 commercial buildings.

As three storms battered the UK in a matter of days earlier this year, Zurich’s analysis highlights the scale of potential disruption London faces from more frequent and severe downpours.

Kensington and Chelsea is found to have the highest percentage of commercial buildings at risk of flash flooding (63%), followed by Hammersmith and Fulham (56%), Merton (54%), Southwark (54%) and Wandsworth (53%)

Nearly half of London’s 33,200 basements in commercial use are at risk of flooding from heavy rain

Flash floods fuelled by the climate crisis threaten more than two-fifths of businesses in London, highlighting the scale of potential disruption the capital faces from increasingly extreme weather. The analysis by our insurer partner Zurich has revealed the potential impact of climate-driven weather on London’s economy. It comes after Zurich’s data scientists pinpointed every commercial or mixed-use property in the city and mapped them against areas at risk of flooding from heavy rain.

In July 2021, London homes and businesses were inundated when a month’s worth of rain fell in one day, with basements properties among the hardest hit.

Zurich’s analysis reveals nearly half (14,780) of London’s 33,205 basements properties in commercial use are exposed to surface water flooding. Of these, 5,692 face a “high” or “extreme” flood risk, with the greatest number of buildings in Westminster.

Paving over of the capital, a lack of green spaces and increased use of basements, is piling pressure on London’s antiquated sewage system, contributing to the rise in surface water flooding.

Ways to protect your business from flooding:

  • Check your flood risk – whether you’ve operated from the same location for years, or recently moved in, assess the long-term flood risk in your area and sign up for flood warnings.
  • Protect your property – take action to make your business more resilient to flooding. This can reduce the impact of floodwaters and help you return to business sooner. Actions range from cost-free measures such as shifting expensive equipment to higher floors and regularly backing up data to moving plug sockets higher up and investing in non-return valves, to stop sewers backing up.
  • Prepare a flood plan – if your business is in a flood prone area, do what you can to prepare for a flood now. This can include drafting a flood plan, so you have crucial information to hand, such as key locations for electricity cut off, and a list of actions if a flood is imminent, such as moving stock or computer servers.
  • Write a business continuity plan – make sure you factor in climate shocks such as floods into your business continuity plan. Having a plan in place can help you prepare for the unexpected and keep your business running if disaster strikes.
  • Carry out a climate risk assessment – work with experts to identify how current and future climate change could impact the operations of your business. The more you know about the risk, the better you can prepare.

Source: Zurich