Storm or flood damage
How to make a claim on your home insurance if hit
Once again, serious flooding is in the news with persistent rain in early November causing rivers to burst their banks. And sadly, the chaos and clear-up after a flood or storm can be a nightmare.
We've key tips here on what to do if you've been affected by flooding or other storm damage, including how to make an insurance claim. At the end of the guide, we've tips on what to do if you're not flooded, but are preparing for the worst.
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What do I do if my home's been flooded or damaged in a storm?
It's a devastating time, as flood damage affects everything it touches. The most important thing is to make sure that you and your family are safe. After that, once the water has receded, you'll need to see what the damage is, and act to make it right. The following tips should help you deal with your insurance and make repairs:
What do I do if the storm or flooding wreaks havoc on my home? If you've been badly hit, act quickly:
- Get yourself and your family out and to a place of safety as quickly as possible.
- To report a possible gas leak, contact the National Grid on 0800 111 999.
- If you've electrical problems, call your local electricity distributor, NOT your energy company (see a list of emergency contact numbers).
- Report any sewage hazards to your council.
What if I can't live in my home? Are insurers likely to help me? Home insurance nearly always includes cover for alternative accommodation so let your insurer know quickly, to avoid any delay.
When should I make an insurance claim? It's always best to act as swiftly as possible. The longer you leave it, the more chance the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property could rise.
What do I need to submit for an insurance claim? Provide full details of the circumstances surrounding anything that's been lost or damaged, plus any evidence. Take photographs of damage to your home, contents or car, or film it. This should all help to provide proof.
What if I need to carry out emergency repairs? Don't do anything unsafe yourself and where possible, contact your insurer first – it should have a 24-hour claims line – and it should then arrange for someone to do any work that's covered.
If you can't get through, or it won't be able to fix the problem quickly enough, arrange to have the damage fixed yourself by calling a qualified plumber, electrician or builder. Make sure you keep any receipts as this will form part of your claim.
My passport's got a tad wet. How do I claim if vital documents are damaged or destroyed? Seek copies from the relevant provider, such as the DVLA for motoring documents, brokers or insurers for duplicate insurance documents, utility providers and the Passport Office. Check Gov.uk for details on how to replace birth certificates.
What will insurers accept as evidence of ownership if items are really badly damaged – eg, if personal possessions have blown away? Any photographs of you with that item when undamaged, or held by friends or relatives, will demonstrate you owned it.
Also keep receipts, credit card bills or bank statements that show purchases. Importantly, don't throw away damaged possessions without first discussing it with your claims adviser, as they will need to be assessed.
What if I plan to redecorate the property myself? Don't rush to redecorate your home as it can take weeks for storm or flood-damaged property to dry out. And don't lift wet carpets unless absolutely necessary, as they may shrink.
I'm not yet affected, but I'm worried. What can I do to prepare?
If you're worried about upcoming forecast storms, or there's a weather warning in your area, then it's best to prepare as much as possible.
Check if a flood warning has been issued in your area. Keep an eye on whether there is a risk of flooding in your area:
- In England, visit Gov.uk.
- In Northern Ireland, check NIdirect or its Twitter account for regular updates.
- In Scotland, try the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
- In Wales, go to Natural Resources Wales.
What should I do before a storm arrives? First things first – make sure you have easy access to up-to-date emergency phone numbers, as you may need to act quickly to sort the problem. Also, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged as a communication back-up in case a landline is cut.
Then, batten down the hatches. Ensure you secure your home, by locking gates, shutting windows and storing any important documents safely out of reach of possible damage –particularly from flooding. Try to store any loose objects such as garden furniture you may have in the open, or tie them down as best you can.
What about protecting my home against a future storm (or flood damage)? Here are some tips for those who live in flood-prone areas:
• Ensure drains and gutters are clear of debris so rainfall can flow away.
• Place valuable and electrical items in high cupboards or on higher floors to prevent damage.
• Ensure outdoor furniture and other items that are likely to float away are safely restrained.
• Store important documents in a watertight bag in a dry, accessible place – preferably upstairs.
• Make a list of useful numbers you may need – such as your insurer, council and emergency services.
• Buy airbrick covers or flood boards to block doorways.
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