Your business may be well protected from most foul weather, but it’s a different story when that rainstorm suddenly turns into a flash flood. Even if your insurance includes flood protection, your provider may not fully cover your losses—especially if you did not take certain precautions to minimize the damage. Attorney Bill Voss examines the precautions property owners and managers can take to reduce flood losses, as well as the kinds of insurance that can provide the most benefit.
Flood Prevention and Recovery Tips for Commercial Structures
Commercial buildings are at just as much risk of weather damage as any other structures, but they have particular hazards when it comes to floods. A sprawling warehouse or shopping mall has much more floor space than a one-story home, while a high-rise building can suffer foundation damage that makes the entire structure uninhabitable. Each one will need to be assessed carefully to discover its biggest shortcomings in a flood situation—and insurance coverage should be specifically tailored to provide coverage in the costliest areas of damage.
While you may not be able to prevent the next storm, there are many preventative measures that can keep commercial buildings safe from flood damage, including:
- Evaluating your property critically. Inspect your property for building components and systems where flooding could pose a problem. This includes inspecting pipes for leaks and cracks that can cause internal flooding, as well as drainage problems that could lead to low-flow drying or standing water after a flood.
- Inspecting basements and lower levels. If your commercial property has a basement, you should perform a walk-through every six months to identify potential problems and make any necessary repairs. A day of caulking windows and cracks, patching foundation walls, or even installing a sump pump can prevent weeks of costly repairs in the future.
- Reevaluating your landscaping. Your landscaping may make your business appealing to customers, but the positioning of the trees, bushes, and even parking lots may be against you when the rain falls. While you may not be able to control some outdoor elements, you can determine the grading of the property and establish whether your landscaping allows water to run down and away from the property (instead of down into your foundation).
- Performing regular cleanup and maintenance. Texas is prone to severe storms at certain times of the year, making it easy to implement a flood-proofing maintenance plan. During storm season, your employees should be vigilant in cleaning out gutters, removing debris from around downspouts and drains, and ensuring that inventory is stored above floor level.
- Finding a restoration agent early. Large loss water damage requires commercial grade drying equipment (such as industrial fans and desiccant dehumidification units) that need to run around the clock to dry out the property. However, just as there is a surge in the filing of insurance claims after a storm, commercial drying companies are often backed up for weeks on service calls and cleanup requests. If you select your contractor early, you may be able to skip the line when you need reconstruction.
- Investing in flood-proofing. Some contractors offer flood-proofing services, a range of inspections and preventive methods to prevent water intrusion on your property. Services can range from applying waterproof varnishes or coverings on walls and beneath floors, which may be worth considering if the property has flooded in the past.
- Reexamining your flood policies. Once you have identified the flood hazards of your property, you should address any vulnerabilities in your flood damage coverage. It is a good idea to include flooding as a covered event for business income loss on your commercial policy, as well as purchasing a separate policy for weather-related flooding through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
If you are having trouble getting the insurance coverage you paid for after a flood, the Voss Law Firm can help. Simply fill out the form on this page to get your questions answered by an insurance attorney, or learn more about filing a claim in our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.