La Nina: Preparing for a wet and rainy summer

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With an imminent La Niña event, get ready for a summer with more rainfall than usual. There are lots of steps you can take to reduce the risk of water damaging your commercial property and your business. But it’s important to take action now to be prepared. 

A La Niña event is part of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. It brings rain, cooler temperatures in the day and warmer temperatures at night, increased risk of cyclones and an earlier monsoon season. Its opposite is El Niño, which typically brings drought and drier weather.

Research by insurer Allianz suggests Australians are woefully underprepared. Half of us (51 per cent) don’t secure doors, window, or roof coverings when a storm is coming and just over a third (36 per cent) would prepare an emergency food and first aid kit.

Steadfast Group broker technical manager Michael White says the biggest problem with a heavy rainfall event is water flooding commercial buildings.

“Take all the mitigation steps you can to reduce this risk. Check your building for any holes where water could get in and check your downpipes are not blocked. Get a roofing specialist or a builder to inspect your roof, don’t get up their yourself, and make sure it’s as watertight as it can be as many roofs are well past their used by date. If there are any defects, get them repaired. If the roof is very old it may need to be replaced, especially if it’s made from asbestos, which tends to be brittle and prone to damage. The final step in your risk mitigation process should be to ensure your windows are properly sealed.”

White says now’s the time to check your insurance policy and make sure the sum insured is adequate in the event the building is damaged by a major storm or cyclone.

“Half of us (51 per cent) don’t secure doors, window, or roof coverings when a storm is coming and just over a third (36 per cent) would prepare an emergency food and first aid kit”

“This is especially important if the roof is made of asbestos. If the roof or some of its panels come off in a storm, you may have to replace the whole roof. So a claim that may have cost $10,000 blows out to $150,000 because you’ve had to replace the whole roof. Ensure you understand how your policy responds in that situation.”

It’s also important to check whether your policy covers flood damage, especially if you’re in an area that’s prone to flooding. Typically, the same areas are prone to flooding repeatedly, and it can be expensive to secure flood cover in some of these locations. If your business is located in a flood zone, understand if you are exposed to this risk. If you’re moving business premises, do some research to find out if the area you are moving to is prone to flooding. If it is, ask your broker about whether you can get flood cover and the price of the premium, which can be expensive. In some cases, insurance may not be available at all.

If you store goods in a warehouse that’s in an area that’s prone to flooding, you will need to ensure the third party property cover in your business interruption insurance will respond in the event the property is flooded.

Businesses that operate in a cyclone zone must be especially well prepared this summer, says White. “Aside from checking your building, you need to have a plan to follow should there be a cyclone.”

This means making sure anything around the building that is not tied down is tethered, and making sure you have an emergency kit including first aid kit, water and torch handy. Also have a list of emergency numbers and turn off all utilities.

While no-one can control the weather, you can ensure you are as prepared as possible in the event of a stormy summer. Follow these tips to help reduce the risk of your business being damaged by rain, storms or cyclones.

Important notice – Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677 and Steadfast Network Brokers

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