The last few weeks have seen almost unprecedented weather conditions in the United Kingdom with many areas severely effected by flooding and the clean up operation still in full swing. With reports of further bad weather on the way many homeowners are very worried about possible damage to their homes. At times like this, it is only natural t to examine your home insurance policies most closely to make sure that flood is a peril including under the building and contents insurance policy wording. For those without insurance, it serves as a timely reminder that now many homes that have previously never experienced flooding in living memory are having to make claims from insurance polices. There has certainly been an increase number in people seeking to take out buildings and contents insurance in the last few weeks.
For the moment insurance premiums are remaining fairly static and it is unlikely their will be a knee jerk rate increase reaction from the majority of UK home insurers. However that said, raising insurance premiums does look inevitable and often these increases can take many months to filter through to quote providers etc. The good news is that under the majority of home insurance policy wordings, cover against flood is a standard peril. It is certainly a requirement of the council of mortgage lenders, that if you have a mortgage on your property flood cover needs to be included to satisfy lenders terms and conditions. However, when taking out buildings and contents insurance, it is vitally important to make sure that you have given the insurers all the relevant underwriting information or material facts in order for them to produce an accurate quotation This would include previous flood damage at the property, if it is located on a flood plain or if any thing with regard to flooding has been mentioned on the lenders or other survey report. They will also want to know the properties proximity to a watercourse or the sea.
It must be remembered that for cover for flooding to apply under an insurance policy, you must have made full disclosure of all facts to the insurance company. If on submitting a claim they discover that your property is on a flood plain or has suffered flooding in the past you may find it difficult or impossible to obtain payment of your claim. We cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you have adequate insurance protection in force in respect of flooding, claims are frequently over £20,000 and the vast majority of homeowners simply would not be able to meet the cost of reinstatement following a claim without insurance protection.
If you have been unlucky enough to have had a flood in your home it’s important that you make contact with your broker or insurance company as quickly as possible. Most policy documents will now include a page on how to make a claim and you will find that a large number of insurers will now operate 24 hour help lines where you can register the claim quickly, they will often help you complete any claim form over the telephone.
The insurance company will usually allow you to effect temporary emergency repairs but always keep receipts and it’s best to always seek their approval before you commence any major restoration work. Certainly if the damage is extensive and items need to be dried out etc, they will appoint a loos adjuster to help co ordinate the claim.
If there is a chance that your property may flood again, now is a good time to broach the subject of flood resilience with your insurer. Any work that can be carried out at this time may help to minimise the damage of any future floods. You may have to consult an expert as to what course of action is open to you but if you are running a business, you may find that the ability to clean and dry out your property will help you start trading quicker thus leading to a smaller loss of profit. ( or loss of profits claim if you have business interruption cover)
Being proactive with regard to flooding and flood damage falls in to two main groups.
1- Flood Resilience- This relates to reducing the damage caused by water when it has entered your property.
2- Flood Resistance- This relates to reducing the amount of water that actually gets entry to the inside of your property.
Largely in response to climate change you will find that there is a growing number of products available on the market specifically designed to keep flood water out of your property. By discussing any preventative measures with your insurer you can help limit the amount of time you have to be away from you home if any future claims occur.
In some cases helping to make you home flood resilient will not cost much more than the normal repair work that has to be undertaken anyway and the following are fairly typical examples of works that can be carried out.
- It may be possible to move the services in your property such as the boiler and service meters to above the flood level.
- Gypsum plaster can be replaced with a more water resistant type such as lime plaster or cement render and renovating plaster.
- Water resistant doors and window frames can be installed
- Kitchen units can be replaced with ones made from plastic or steel. Some kitchen units can be fitted with removable doors.
- Timber floors may be replaced with concrete floors ( if appropriate). Tiles can be laid with a waterproof membrane.
- Patio doors can be replaced by conventional windows with brickwork underneath.
- One way valves can be fitted to drainage pipes to prevent sewage from backing up in to the home.
- A variety of protector covers can be bought for kitchen equipment that cannot be moved at the first sign of flooding.
The cost of these additional measures will not be covered by your insurance but your insurer may be sympathetic especially if they can see you are trying to help prevent a future loss. Discuss the quotations to them and see if there is any value in having them carried out at the same time as your repair work.