Flash floods: are you protected?

Published:
18 August 2011
Topic:
News,Insurance,Home

Flash floods across Southern England have caused widespread disruption and damage to homes and vehicles.

Nearly 20mm of rain fell in Dorset just one hour between 10am and 11am on Thursday, catching many people unawares. The main area affected was Bournemouth, where a four-day air show was due to begin.

Peter Harrison, insurance expert at moneysupermarket.com said: "With severe weather warnings in South East England, and flash flooding across Dorset, I would urge anyone who has been, or stands to be affected by this severe weather to act now. These alerts serve as a timely reminder to those living in flood risk areas to make sure they are prepared for these unfortunate eventualities."

The Government is predicting that there will be a tenfold increase in weather-related claims costs by 2050, but there are steps all households can take to make sure they are protected against flooding. Here are our top tips... .

Check the weather

Keep a close eye on weather reports to find out if heavy rain is likely in your area. The Environment Agency is responsible for issuing flood warnings in England and Wales. It operates the Floodline, an advice and support number for those affected by flooding in England, Wales and Scotland. You can contact Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

The Met Office  carries localised information on weather and flood risks, and your local radio station is also likely to carry regular updates if heavy rain is expected in your area.

Prepare for the worst

Locate your home insurance policy documents and check the level of cover you have in place. Storm cover is usually a standard peril included in most buildings and contents cover, but it pays to check that you are protected.

Storm cover generally encompasses damage caused by tornados, hailstorms, snow storms and lightning. Keep these documents in a safe place so that you have them to hand in the event you are ever flooded.

Mr Harrison said; "People in 'at risk' households should check the details of their buildings and contents policies cover, especially the limits and excesses on both. It pays to make sure that the quality of your insurance is high and you won't be left out of pocket if you had to make a claim."

If you live in a flood-prone area, stock up on sandbags which you can use to block doorways to help keep water out and protect the inside of your home.
 
You should also make sure you protect things you can't replace. If bad weather is on the horizon, items of sentimental value such as photographs and diaries should be packed in waterproof bags and put somewhere safe, ideally upstairs.

After all, no amount of insurance money can bring these back.

Pack a flood kit containing personal IDs, any required medication and a change of clothing in case you do need to evacuate your home.

If flooding looks likely, take up rugs and put them upstairs or throw curtains over curtain rails. You should also move costly possessions such as electrical items off the floor and ideally move them upstairs.

It may be worth giving your home an autumn MOT as the summer draws to a close. This includes checking for loose roof tiles and clearing and securing guttering.

If you become a flood victim

Find your home insurance policy and call the emergency helpline if there is one. If you haven't got your policy to hand because you had to leave your property in a hurry, your insurer should be able to track your policy details from your name and address.

Don't throw away any of your possessions, even if they have been ruined by flooding. Many insurers will want to see the extent of the damage, so keep items to show them, and take photographs too.

Tempting as it may be to try to get back to normal as soon as possible, you should resist the temptation to redecorate immediately. Insurers advise that everything must be totally dry before you repair the damage. They should be able to advise you on reputable firms who can undertake repairs and building work.

Once you have made a claim for flooding, your existing insurers should continue to cover you but they may only agree to this if there are planned improvements in flood defences. Your premiums will almost certainly go up the next year.

If you're buying a property in a high-risk area for the first time, you're likely to be refused cover by most insurers, which means you'll also find it hard to get a mortgage.

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