Flooding: protecting your property and making an insurance claim

ABI Policy Adviser, Property, Mark Shepherd explains the steps home owners can take to prepare for flooding and what happens when making an insurance claim for flood damage.

How should you prepare for a potential flood?

Flooding can be dangerous so the most important thing is to stay safe and to keep your family safe.

A severe flood warning from the Environment Agency means a threat to life so it is important to listen out to those alerts and warnings. It is worth getting in touch with your local council if you are worried to see what is happening in your area and listen to local news.

It’s also worth digging out your insurance documents, but don’t worry if you can’t find them – your insurer should still be able to help. Keep a fully charged mobile phone handy and think about moving important or valuable possessions upstairs so should the worst happen they are not as affected by any flood water that should come in.

But your first priority is to stay safe.

What should you do if your home is flooded?

You should contact your insurer as soon as possible. Many insurers will operate 24 hour helplines so call day or night to get in touch with them and get that claim started. They will be able to advise you on the next steps and what will happen with your claim as it goes forward.

What will your insurer do after a flood?

Once you have called your insurer they will be able to make any emergency payments for your immediate needs.

They will then assess whether you need to have alternative accommodation, so if you are unable to stay in your home they will arrange that.

If the damage is extensive, they will then arrange for a loss adjuster to visit as soon as possible and as soon as it is safe to do so. That loss adjuster will help you with the rest of the process, which includes the drying out of the building, and arranging quotes or contractors to come and start the repair process.

How long will it take?

Getting back in to your property can take a long time depending on the severity of the flooding. Once the waters have gone the process of drying out your property can happen. Then the repair process and restoring your building can get under way.

We understand that it can be a frustrating and upsetting process but insurers are there to take you step-by-step along the way, offering interim payments where necessary, and making sure that you have alternative accommodation and somewhere safe to stay while the repair of your building happens.

What should you do if you’re unhappy with how your insurance claim is handled?Always try to speak to your insurer first and sort it out there and then. If that doesn’t happen and if you’re still not happy, insurers will have complaints procedures. On occasions mistakes do happen. If the insurer’s complaints procedure does not resolve the situation to your satisfaction, you can get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. They are an independent body who will assess the case from the beginning and they can make decisions that will be binding on insurers to put right any wrongs that have happened.

Will you be able to get flood insurance in the future?

It is important to remember that flood insurance is only one part of your home insurance policy and you are covered for a number of other risks or perils.

In regards to flooding people often worry whether their premium will go up in the future. That’s why the insurance industry is working with Government on implementing a new scheme called Flood Re, which is due to begin in summer 2015. This will make sure that hundreds of thousands of households across the UK can get access to affordable flood insurance at capped premium levels in the future.