The floods that hit northern and central England last month will cost businesses up to £170m in IT insurance claims, it emerged this week.
Total claims are expected to reach £680m, with IT accounting for between 20% and 25% of the total costs, said Sheffield Chamber of Commerce director Stephen Mitchell.
The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters said about 6,800 businesses had claimed some sort of damage cover, with an average claim of £100,000 each.
"There are definitely lessons to be learnt. Some businesses have not had adequate business interruption insurance, many did not have alternative back-up systems to enable them to keep working, and many more simply did not have contingency plans for this scale of catastrophe," said Mitchell.
John Sharp, policy and development director at business continuity resource the Continuity Forum, said small and medium-sized businesses were "in denial" over disaster continuity.
"This should be a wake-up call for everybody. One in five small businesses are affected by disaster, but their attitude towards risk means they often do not have plans. They say they cannot afford the time or money to create them, and they often do not understand the impact a disaster might have," he said.
Simon Briault, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said many companies could not afford continuity plans. "They have to balance so many things on fairly tight budgets that getting insurance and business continuity plans are often not top of the list.
"The floods will certainly concentrate minds, and ideally we would like all small businesses to consider getting insurance and plans, but we have to be realistic," he said.
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