Bad weather is hitting the revenues of almost half of all UK small businesses every year – due to damage caused to property by winds, floods, snow and ice – and their inability to be “open for business”.
The warning came in the wake of severe gales, which hit the Yorkshire region last week – with the prospects of further poor weather in the coming months.
Figures from Towergate Insurance said that each of the UK’s estimated 4.9m small to medium-sized businesses risks suffering on average £38,311 worth of damage due to the elements – costing the country’s economy as much as £86bn.
Weather chaos meant small businesses could also lose more than three working days of staff time a employees battled – and failed – to get to work.
The survey showed that over the last five years, 51% of businesses experienced some form of damage through floods, wind and thunderstorms alone.
The nationwide survey also reveals 43% of SMEs have no cover or do not know if they are covered for serious bad weather.
In Yorkshire, more than 18% of firms have business insurance to cover damage caused by high winds, with 17% covered for thunder and lightning,.
In addition, 12% said they were covered for damage caused by hail, more than 23% were covered for flooding damage and almost 13% had cover for damage by snow and ice.
But 16% were not covered for any of those eventualities and 44% simply didn’t know if they were covered or not.
The situation is worst in the East Midlands, where 61% of firms did not know if they were covered.
The survey said the threat of bad weather was compounded by the fact that more than 46% of SMEs had not considered a business continuity plan to carry on trading or mitigate losses.
James Tugendhat of Towergate Direct said: “Small businesses are a vital part of the UK economy and can’t afford to lose money due to the unpredictable British weather.
“Whilst the good old British weather has become a joke, losing large sums of money or business days due to damage is no laughing matter.
“Fortunately, adequate flood insurance can mitigate the crippling costs of these interruptions and we need to make sure that when bad weather strikes, they can get back on their feet as soon and easily as possible.
“Making sure businesses are aware of the risks bad weather poses and how to mitigate against it means SMEs can be guaranteed peace of mind and get back to the business of business.”