With climate change set to make wetter winters the norm, here’s how to check if your home’s at risk of flooding and whether your insurance will cover you…
Around one in seven properties in the UK is thought to be at risk of flooding, according to research by Aviva, and more are likely to be affected in coming years. The Environment Agency has warned that climate change will lead to wetter winters and increased flooding, with more intense rainfall and a third more precipitation expected to fall by 2070.
However, it’s a reality that many of us seem to downplay. The results of the Aviva survey also reveal that just over two thirds of homeowners in areas where there is a high risk of flooding believe there is no risk to their home at all.
Is my home at risk of flooding?
If you’re unsure whether or not your home is at risk of flooding, you can use the Flood Warning Information Service postcode checker or the postcode checker at FloodRe to find out. You can sign up to receive flood alerts by registering online. Alternatively, follow @EnvAgency on Twitter for the latest flood updates. You can check Met Office warnings and advice here.
If you find out that your home is in a high-risk area, you’re worried about flood or storm damage or you’re already a victim of flooding, it’s important that you know whether or not your home insurance policy covers flooding, and what to expect from your insurer if you have to make a claim.
What will my home insurance cover?
In a nutshell, with buildings insurance, your insurer will dry, clean, repair and restore your home. If you have contents cover, your insurer will dry, clean and restore your possessions or replace or pay for any that are damaged beyond repair. Check your policy details not all home insurance providers cover the same things. Things like alternative accommodation, escape of water from within the home, fences, hedges and gates will be treated differently by each insurer in a flood claim, so it’s important you’re checking the exclusions on your policy,says Lee Griffin, founder and CEO at GoCompare.
What is the flood claims process?
If your home is flooded or damaged by surface water flooding, ring your insurer’s 24 hour claim line, as soon as possible. If you need somewhere to stay, they will advise where you can go. Whether you have buildings or contents insurance, your insurer should offer to provide or pay for the cost of alternative accommodation. They will also tell you what evidence you’ll need to support your claim and what steps to take to start the clean up and repair process. Put in your claim as soon as you can to avoid delay.
What’s the process once the flood damage claim’s approved?
If your home is badly flooded, your insurer will appoint a loss adjuster to assess the damage and oversee the repair process, a surveyor to oversee any major building works, specialist cleaning and drying companies, and builders and decorators. The loss adjuster will organise the drying out, disinfecting, cleaning and stripping out of your home. They should give you a timetable, and keep you fully informed about when you should be able to return home. But as many home and business owners have discovered, this can be a painfully slow and frustrating process and you need to keep in close contact with your insurer/loss adjuster. “If the damage is bad, it can take up to a year or more for your home to be restored and for you to be able to live in it again,” says the Association of British Insurers.
My house needs urgent repairs, what can I do?
Ring your insurer’s 24/7 claims line. If you can’t get through by phone or they can’t send anyone to do the repairs soon enough, you can have the damage fixed yourself by a reputable (preferably recommended) tradesperson. But take plenty of photographic evidence and always keep any receipts so you can claim back afterwards. If you’ve lost possessions, check if you have a record of your home and what was in it in any photos you’ve taken on social media, and ask friends and family too. You may also have receipts or bank statements that show when you bought items.
Can I start clearing the flood damage straightaway?
It will take at least a couple of days for your insurer to appoint a loss adjuster to assess your claim, possibly longer in times of high demand. If they need to visit you, they will aim to do so within 7 days of the water receding, according to the ABI.
In the meantime, don’t throw away damaged items without checking with the claims adviser first, as every damaged item will need to be assessed. After that, you should get rid of any items which pose a health risk, such as rotting food, list details of damaged items, and take photos everything and anything relevant before things are moved or disposed of. For items like carpets and soft furnishings, the ABI advise taking a cutting.
If important documents such as driving licence or insurance certificates have been damaged or destroyed in the flood, you will be able to get duplicates from the relevant providers.
How you may be voiding your insurance
Will I be able to get home insurance after a flood claim?
Thanks to the Flood Re scheme devised by the industry, affordably priced flood insurance remains available to those households at high flood risk,” says Laura Hughes, Manager, General Insurance, ABI. If you’re worried, you can find out more at FloodRe. It’s flood risk tool will tell you if your property qualifies for support. You can also use it to check if a property you’re thinking of buying is at risk of flooding with their postcode checker.