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Flooding: Making a home insurance claim

A flood warning road signWe explain how to make a claim for flooding on your home insurance policy.

More than five million homes in England and Wales - or one in every six - are at risk of flooding and the frequency and severity of flood events is rising.

This is according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the body that represents the insurance industry.

The ABI says that insurers have paid out approximately £5 billion in claims to households and businesses affected by flooding since 2000.

So it pays to know your rights if you ever have to make a claim for flooding on your home insurance policy.

What is covered? 

Most buildings insurance and home contents insurance policies will cover flood and storm damage, including that caused by storm winds.

If your home is uninhabitable, your insurer will usually pay for temporary accommodation while it is being repaired.

But levels of cover do vary between insurers, so dig out your existing home insurance policy to find out exactly what you are covered for.

Look out for any exclusions, and check what your insurer will give you in terms of alternative accommodation while any damage to your home is repaired.

Comprehensive motor insurance policies usually cover damage to vehicles and some policies may provide you with a replacement vehicle if the damage is repairable.

Again, do check your policy document for exact details.

Preparation is key so make sure to keep your home insurance details in a secure, dry place where they are easily accessed in the event of flooding.

What to do if you're flooded

Contact your home insurer as soon as possible. Most will have 24-hour emergency helplines, which can give advice on next steps and arrange repairs as quickly as possible.

If necessary, arrange temporary emergency repairs to stop any damage getting worse. Tell your insurer and keep any receipts, as this will form part of your claim.

Photograph your property and any damage, as it may help your insurer settle a claim.

Rescue and dry any manuals and receipts of your valuables. Their product numbers could help you make a fair claim.

Do not be in a rush to throw away damaged items, unless they are a danger to health, as these may be able to be repaired or restored. Your insurer can advise you.

It can take weeks, sometimes months for a property to fully dry out so do not be in a rush to redecorate. Again, your insurer can give you advice.

Be flood aware

Preparation in key so keep abreast of wet weather warnings.
 
You can register online with the Environment Agency's Floodline Warnings Direct service, which provides flood warnings by phone, text or email.

A similar flood alert service is run by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Aidan Kerr, head of property at the ABI, says: "As the UK experiences heavy rainfall, insurers will be geared up to help customers affected by flooding as quickly as possible.

"Flooding can be traumatic and disruptive, but unexpected events like this are exactly what insurance is for.

"Flooding is covered as standard in home insurance policies and people affected should contact their insurer to get their claim moving."

Buying a home?

If you are buying a property, remember to look at flood risk very carefully.

Before buying, get quotes from an insurance company to see whether it will cover you, and how much you have to pay.

If you live in England or Wales, the Environment Agency produces flood maps which are viewable online. Again, Scottish residents should contact SEPA.

Higher premiums

If you ever suffer a flood in your home, you can expect to pay a much higher home insurance premium in future.

This is because if flooding happens once, it can happen again, so insurers will regard you as a higher risk of making a claim.

Of course, paying more for cover is not ideal but it's better than having no cover at all. Do shop around however, to see if insurance might be cheaper with another provider.




Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick reports on all things personal finance at Confused.com. She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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