A business owner whose business was damaged in the South Yorkshire floods has warned fellow entrepreneurs about the dangers of being underinsured and cautioned that thousands of businesses risk ‘losing everything’ if they are hit.
Pam Webb, whose Truffle Lodge spa business and home were destroyed in the Fishlake flooding in November, is urging business owners to check their insurance policies for flooding exclusions or high excesses for flood damage.
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Ms Webb was one of hundreds of residents of Fishlake who had their homes and businesses destroyed after the nearby River Don over topped its banks in November consequently flooding Fishlake. The village is still reeling from the effects of the flood, with many seeing in the New Year in temporary accommodation and businesses unable to reopen.
Her distress was compounded when she received a phone call from her insurance broker, to advise her that her policy had a flood exclusion clause and she was therefore not covered.
Ms Webb said: “This is a huge issue that will impact more and more people. People will often go through comparison sites for insurance and get the cheapest quote, but that insurer may not be signed up to Flood RE cover, may have huge excesses, or completely exclude flooding in order to pass on that cheaper price.
“People also need to realise that they are not immune to flooding because they don’t live near a river – my property and business are not near a river and look what happened me.”
Pam, who has lived at her property since 2004, said she always had cover for flooding but last year, on renewal, flood cover was excluded on both her home and business. She received the devastating news that her insurance company would not pay-out and furthermore the insurer was pulling her renewal offer.
Following a visit from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Pam contacted the PM’s office asking for help, as she had to find a new insurance provider with five days’ notice.
The government put her in touch with Chris Jenkins, of Farmers & Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB) who, said: “Complacency could mean thousands of other businesses face the same fate as Pam. In the UK, flood risks are increasing, due largely to the effects of climate change and an increasing population – and this is only going to get worse.”
Pam has spoken directly to the Minister responsible for regulating insurance and has urged that a review is conducted into this very topic and the huge delays in insurance companies acting which consequently causes further damage to properties and increased claims.
Chris echoed Pam’s sentiments, saying that it is not just areas that have flooded in the past or are located near waterways that are at an increased flood risk.
According to 2019 Environment Agency report, 2.4million properties are at risk from flooding from rivers and seas, whilst three million properties are at risk from surface water flooding.
“As towns get bigger and new developments crop up, we lose grass to absorb rainwater and put additional strain on the drainage system. This means that areas that have never flooded before are at risk,” said Chris.