Flooding Issues and Insurance
Apparently, you’re more at risk of claiming on your insurance because of weather-related issues than you are burglary. One of the most highlighted weather issues recently has been flooding, especially following the horrific flooding of Boscastle – a beautiful little village in Cornwall.
If you’re moving house – what should you watch out for?
Your solicitor will do checks and searches on your property. These include flooding risk assessments, They use data provided by the environment agency – so if you know the postcode of the property you can find out yourself.
Check the flood risk for the area SEPA (for Scotland).
Find out what the local flood warning service for your area is by contacting Floodline: 0845 988 1188.
Check local flood records via Floodline. Is there a history of flooding in the area? Ask neighbors if it is susceptible to flooding, (The householder might not be strictly true as they’re trying to sell the property)
Check access to the property – if it was flooded would you be able to get out easily?
Is it very low-lying and therefore more vulnerable to flooding (at the bottom of a hill or on higher ground).
Could the property be adapted easily? Power points moved up high, scope to change the flooring, remove skirting boards etc.
Moving to a bungalow? Check your escape route in the event of a flood. Is there plenty of storage space for valuables, e.g. large loft?
Don’t underestimate the damage a flood can do. Make sure you have adequate buildings and contents insurance cover.
If you are in an area vulnerable to flooding – What you should do before a flood
Keep a list of useful numbers to hand e.g. your local council, the emergency services, your insurance company.
Have a few sandbags or flood boards prepared to block doorways and airbricks. Check the Agency’s website for advice on how to lay sandbags effectively.
Make up a flood kit – including a torch, blankets, waterproof clothing, wellingtons, a portable radio, first aid kit, rubber gloves and key personal documents. Keep it upstairs, if possible.
Talk about possible flooding with your family or those you live with. Consider writing a flood plan and store these notes with your flood kit.
Make sure you know where to turn off your gas and electricity.
What about your pets? Where will you move them to if a flood is on the way?
Think about your car. Where could you move it to in the event of a flood warning?
Get into the habit of storing valuable or sentimental personal belongings upstairs or in a high place downstairs.
Think about medication. In the event of a flood, you’ll still need to take it,
What to do when you hear a warning – Follow the Flood Warning Codes
Watch water levels. Stay alert. Keep an eye on the weather. Listen out for warnings on radio and TV.
Check out the Environment Agency’s website (for England and Wales). They update their flood warnings online 24 hours a day.
- Make sure you have what you need to put your flood plan into action,
- Alert your neighbors, particularly the elderly,
- Check pets and livestock,
- Reconsider travel plans,
- Be aware that the situation could worsen,
- Do as much as you can in daylight. Doing everything in the dark will be a lot harder, especially if the electricity fails.
- Move pets, vehicles, valuables, and other items to safety,
- Put sandbags or flood boards in place,
- Prepare to turn off gas and electricity,
- Be prepared to evacuate your home or business · Protect yourself, your family and others that need your help,
- Take action based on Family Flood Plan,
- Have warm clothing and wellingtons ready,
- Have medication to hand (if needed),
- Be ready to turn off gas and electricity (get help if needed),
- Check water/food stocks,
- Don’t drive through floodwater.
Severe Flood Warning
- Be prepared to lose power supplies – gas, electricity, water, telephone,
- Try to keep calm, and to reassure others – especially children,
- Co-operate with emergency services and local authorities – you may be evacuated to emergency centers,
- Protect family, pets and irreplaceable items.
- Safety first during a flood
- Flooding can kill. Don’t try to walk or drive through floodwater – six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car,
- Don’t walk on sea defenses, riverbanks or cross river bridges – they may collapse in extreme situations or you may be swept off by large waves,
- Take care when walking through shallow water – manhole covers may have come off and there may be other underwater hazards,
- Avoid contact with floodwater – it may be contaminated with sewage,
- Never try to swim through fast flowing water – you may get swept away or struck by an object in the water.,
- Beware of flooding at dips in the roads, bridges and low spots – turn back if the road is flooded,
- Beware of pebbles and stones being thrown up by waves – they may hit you, your car or your home.
- What to do after a flood
- Ask gas, electricity and water companies to check your supplies before turning back on,
- Take up sections of damaged floorboards, carpet, wall tiles, wet furnishings – clean off mud and contaminants, wash with disinfectant and leave them to dry outside if possible,
- Clean and dry out your property as quickly as possible to minimise damp problems,
- Check Yellow Pages under flood damage for suppliers of cleaning materials or equipment to dry out your property,
- Wash your hands with disinfectant/wear rubber gloves,
- Water supply companies advise that mains tap water should not be contaminated. Wash taps and run them for a few minutes before use. If in doubt contact your water company,
- Do not touch items that have been in contact with floodwater which may be contaminated eg food · Check external walls, roofs and drainage systems · Contact your local authority for information on how to deal with saltwater floods,
- Contact English Heritage for advice on repairs to listed buildings.
Contact Your Insurers
- Telephone your insurance company’s 24 hour emergency helpline,
- Commission immediate emergency pumping /repair work to protect your property from further damage,
- Get advice where detailed, lengthy repairs are needed,
- Check with your insurer if you have to move into alternative accommodation as the cost is normally covered under a household policy,
- Make sure your insurance company knows where to contact you if you have to move out of your home,
- Make notes to help your insurer deal with your claim including the time of flood warning; time the floodwater entered your home; maximum depth of the flood, how long the flood water was in your home, the presence of any contaminants, what damage was done to building and contents,
- Photograph the damage, photos or video footage of the damage can be invaluable in showing the damage.
- Try to keep an inventory of correspondence after the flood (e.g. letters to Local Authorities, builders, insurers and loss adjuster).