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Flood information for homeowners

Flood information for homeowners

As the UK’s weather patterns become more erratic, flooding is affecting increasing numbers of homeowners throughout the country. Anyone within a potential flood zone and surrounding areas should have a disaster recovery plan in place which aims to get them back in their home in the shortest amount of time possible. The following information has been put together with the intention of helping you do just that.

Insurance and protection for homes at risk of flooding

Flooding checklist

Practical methods and products to reduce flood damage

Emergency numbers and useful resources

Flood water and the clean up operation

List of items to have on hand during a flood

The role of the Loss Assessor

 

Insurance and protection for homes at risk of flooding

There has been at least one flood in the UK every single year since 1998, and winter 2014 (1 December 2013 to 25 February 2014) was the wettest winter recorded since records began over 250 years ago.

Flood experts estimate that if your property is situated in a flood risk area, you are 30% more likely to experience flooding, the consequences of which can be disastrous, both emotionally and financially.

However, with a bit of foresight and planning, you can effectively protect your home from floods and minimise the amount of damage that flooding may cause.

Make sure you are covered

Your buildings and contents insurance will offer cover in the event of flood damage. The cost of everything from drying out, repairing and restoring, to removing debris and legal fees should be included in your home insurance policy.

When looking for a insurance policy that includes all of these features there are a few things you can do to help the process. If you are in a high risk flood area then try to contact an insurance company that specialises in flood risk cover.

Contacting a wide range of insurers will give you a variety of prices to pick from, and an overview of the types of cover that are available. You can also invest in a flood mitigation survey, which will help you pinpoint what to do to reduce your exposure to flooding, and present your risk profile to insurers in the best possible light, which could reduce your premium.

For more information about making a flood insurance claim, read our full guide here https://www.morganclark.co.uk/guide-residential-flood.html.

Preventative measures

With a little foresight and preparation, you can make sure your property is well-equipped in the case of a flood.

Having a flood plan in place will help to minimise potential damage and hopefully allow you to get back into your property as soon as possible. This should contain all the information needed during an emergency, such as contact numbers of your insurance company, utility suppliers and Loss Assessors.

Keep your flood plan in a safe and disaster-proof place (as well as in a waterproof document holder) along with any critical documentation like your insurance policy and important financial and legal documents.

With the unpredictability of British weather, floods can strike and wreak havoc at any time. By following these simple steps you can make sure you are well prepared for disaster, reducing the financial and emotional damage that may be sustained.

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Flooding checklist

We have provided this quick checklist for you to easily print off, fill in and keep to hand with your other important insurance documents…

Your insurance policy number  Your insurance company tel. number  Local gas-safe plumber  Local certified electrician

Morgan Clark Loss Assessors 01978228646

Emergency numbers

Gas supplier
Water supplier
Electricity supplier
Insurance company
Loss assessor Builder
Electrician Plumber/ heating engineer

Locate your disconnection points

Water
Gas
Electricity

Other safeguards to consider

  • Secure as many household items as possible, remove them from the property if you have time.
  • Ensure paper documents are secure and safe, make photocopies or scan and keep electronic copies-ensure they can be retrieved
  • List and photograph valuable items that are at risk
  • Make up an emergency overnight bag

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Practical methods and products to reduce flood damage

Contingency planning is all well and good but homeowners who are in known flood-risk areas will want to take practical steps towards minimising the damage caused by flooding.

There are many products on the market which can help prevent and protect a property from flood damage. Products approved by the British Standards Institution (BSI) are the most reliable, and tend to be widely available.

  • Flood barriers make a watertight seal across doors or windows and are easy to fit. The metal or plastic board slides into a frame that you can install prior to flood warnings.
  • Airbrick covers are plastic covers that prevent water entering your premises. Airbricks can be pre-fitted with a frame that the plastic clips to.
  • Flood skirts are a more expensive but more advanced system of flood protection. Protecting your property on the foundation level, the flood skirt is made of water resistant sheeting which protects the bottom two to three feet.
  • Blocking entry points for the water with sandbags is a cheaper alternative to some of the above products. Sandbags can also be put into a toilet bowl to prevent sewage from overflowing into bathrooms. They are available from DIY shops or can be provided by local authorities, but please note, they are not under any obligation to provide them. Bin bags, pillowcases or carrier bags filled with soil or sand will do just as good a job if you are unable to get hold of any sandbags.
  • Sturdy plastic bags such as heavy duty bin liners can be put around the base of tables and chairs.
  • Pallets – where higher level storage is not available, pallets can be used to lift items off floor level.
  • Plywood and other wood can be used to board up windows and doors – it’s not always the flood water itself that does the damage but if larger items are being carried by the water they can break glass in windows and cause other damage.
  • Heavy duty plastic sheeting can be used in conjunction with sandbags.

It is also useful to familiarise yourself with how to shut off the essentials in your home too. If you have gas, water and electricity, knowing how to turn them off may come in handy when faced with rising flood water.

Checking www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood will help you keep an eye on the weather and the water levels of nearby rivers which might be liable to flooding.

The Environment Agency also has a system here where you can enter your postcode and your flood risk will be calculated – if your postcode is not recognised then you can also enter your nearest town or river.

By combining practical steps with the implementation of a flood plan, you can protect your home from the impact of a flood to the best of your ability.

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Emergency numbers and useful resources

Prior to flooding

Met Office – www.metoffice.gov.uk – to check weather warnings

Sign up to the Environment Agency’s direct flood warning system here

National Flood Forum – http://nationalfloodforum.org.uk – for advice, prior to or after flooding

During a flood

– Fire and Rescue / Police / Ambulance / Coastguard – 999 – if somebody’s life is in danger

– National Gas Emergency – 0800 111 9990800 111 999 – if you are worried about or smell a gas

– Environment Agency – Floodline – 0845 988 11880845 988 1188 – for a 24 hour helpline / pre-recorded advice

– NHS 111 – for non-emergency health concerns

– RSPCA – 0300 1234 9990300 1234 999 – for injured or distressed animals

– Highways Agency – www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information – for traffic information

– Loss Assessor – Freephone 0197822864601978228646 &
0333 220 9399
03334142749 (mobile alternate) – to manage your insurance claim

After flooding

– Citizens Advice Bureau – http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk – for insurance / claims advice

– Water company – http://www.water.org.uk/home/our-members/list-of-companies – to contact your local water authority

– County Council – http://www.countycouncil.org.uk – find your local county council for public health issues

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Flood water and the clean up operation

Despite plenty of warning, planning and preparation, there can be some instances where even this is not enough to prevent your home from flooding. In the event of a flood, the safety of you and your family will be your number one priority. The clean-up operation can be a long, expensive and arduous task, but by implementing an effective plan prior to the flood, you can make this as hassle-free as possible.

About flood water

Flood water can be very unsanitary, bringing silt, dirt and sewage into your home. Keeping yourself healthy in these conditions can be difficult, but there are simple things you can do to ensure you don’t endanger yourself or expose yourself to anything harmful.

  • Never use an emergency generator inside – the build-up of carbon monoxide could leave you susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, which is very serious and can cause fatalities.
  • Mould growth is not just an unsightly problem but also a danger to your health. Mould spores like to grow on wet or damp surfaces and not only produce allergens, but also irritants and mycotoxins, which are toxic substances. Inhalation of mould spores, or even touching mould, can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and dermatitis, and can bring on an asthma attack in someone who already suffers from asthma. Removing water soaked porous materials will help prevent the spread of mould – this includes getting rid of damp insulation, carpets, wallpaper, and wooden panelling.
  • If your septic system has flooded, it will need time to dry out – which unfortunately means not using toilets, sinks and dishwashers during this time.
  • Flood water can often flush out pests from river banks or sewers and into your home. When clearing up after a flood, be sure to block up holes and make sure that no food is left out.
  • Don’t drink the tap water until you hear from authorities that it is safe to drink.

Cleaning up after a flood

When re-entering the property yourself:

  • Always take care when re-entering your home after a flood as the foundations and structure of the property may have shifted and may not be as stable as they once were.
  • Be sure to wear protective clothing and rubber gloves should you need to return to your property, as the flood water may have brought in sewage and dangerous debris such as broken glass or nails.
  • Whilst keeping your home secure, let it dry out by opening all doors and windows.

The following should be carried out by a professional restoration company:

  • The first thing to do after the flood water begins to subside is to start emergency pumping to get rid of all the water. Pumping should be done fairly slowly from underground rooms like a basement. If the pressure outside the walls is greater than the pressure inside the walls, the walls and floor may crack and collapse.
  • If your gas & electricity has been turned off then make sure it is safe to be switched back on. A professional will be able to tell you if your power supplies are safe to use again.
  • If any mould has already formed, remove it from hard surfaces with warm water and a damp cloth. If mould has grown on anything other than a hard surface, such as paper and carpet, these items will need to be thrown away. If mould has grown on structural wood it will most likely need to be removed by sanding – make sure to vacuum clean well afterwards to get rid of the spores. Once the mould has gone, disinfect the area.

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List of items to have on hand before and during a flood

Clear thinking can be difficult in a crisis situation. Therefore, we’ve prepared a basic list of some items that you might like to have on hand before and during a flood:

  • Emergency checklist and list of important phone numbers – as above
  • Toolbox – with a variety of different items such as screwdrivers, spanners and allen keys
  • Items to safeguard your property i.e. pallets to raise furniture, sandbags to prevent ingress of water etc.
  • Small amount of cash
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Wind up mobile phone charger
  • Wind up radio
  • Fully charged laptop computer
  • Torch with batteries/ wind up torch
  • Wellington boots / waterproof clothing
  • Rubber gloves
  • Non perishable food / drinking water
  • First aid kit

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The role of the Loss Assessor

Managing a flood insurance claim can be an extremely complicated affair, which is in turn time consuming and stressful for the individual responsible for managing the claim. A Loss Assessor alleviates this stress by managing the whole claims process on your behalf.

As part of the claims management service, a Loss Assessor will typically offer the following services:

  • supervise the initial drying and sanitisation of the property.
  • help to find appropriate temporary accommodation for you and your family while the repairs are carried out, and arrange emergency funding to support you during this difficult time.
  • introduce you to experts such as surveyors to assess the full extent of the structural damage.
  • compile your insurance claim for buildings, contents and alternative accommodation, ensuring everything you’re entitled to is covered.
  • deal with your insurance company and their loss adjuster, taking all calls, answering all letters and attending all meetings either alongside you or on your behalf.
  • negotiate the type of settlement you want: reinstatement, cash or diminution (loss of value).
  • introduce you to independent surveyors and contractors who will work in your best interests to restore your property, should you choose to use their services.
  • give you control over the refurbishment work, as well as the style and standard of fixtures and fittings, and look at any alterations you may like to incorporate while the building works are being carried out.

As the homeowner, you have ultimate control over your insurance claim. You can choose your Loss Assessor’s style of management; this can range from handing over complete control (other than major decisions) to them, through to working in close partnership together throughout the process.

Put simply, the Loss Assessor can manage the entire insurance claims process for you, allowing you to focus on what matters most – keeping you and your family safe, and getting back into your property as quickly as possible.

When should you contact the Loss Assessor?

A Loss Assessor can assist you at any stage of a claim, however the sooner you bring them on board the better. Drafting in a Loss Assessor prior to submitting a claim will help ensure you remain in control and that you receive everything you are entitled to under the terms of your insurance policy.

How Loss Assessors work

Loss Assessors will liaise with your insurance company and all other involved parties on your behalf, including brokers, surveyors, contractors, solicitors, loss adjusters etc. This means that every aspect of your claim will be managed by the Loss Assessor, from putting in the initial claim, to when you move back into your property.

Don’t I need an Adjuster?

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between Loss Adjusters and Loss Assessors. Whilst the two may sound similar, their roles in the insurance claim process are very different.

  • Loss Adjusters work for the insurance company. They are appointed and paid by the insurance company to ‘adjust’ the claim presented by you or your Loss Assessor.
  • Loss Assessors work for you, the policyholder. They are independent professionals who are employed by you to protect your interests and ensure you receive the very best settlement under the terms of your insurance policy.

Loss Assessor fees

Depending which loss assessing firm you use, there is usually a degree of flexibility with regard to how you manage your claim. The most common scenarios are as follows:

1. The firm will assign you a Loss Assessor and introduce you to other professionals you might need in the claims process, such as; chartered surveyors, a contents specialist and builders. There is typically no fee for this arrangement.

2. Alternatively, you may prefer to use your own builder, in which case the firm will work with them to guide them through the claim process, by using your own builder you’ll likely incur a small fee.

Choosing a Loss Assessor

With an abundance of Loss Assessors out there it can seem difficult to know which one to choose. Here is a list of questions to consider carefully when hiring a loss assessing company:

  • How reputable are they? Check when the company was established, and in turn the level of experience the company has in handling residential claims like yours.
  • Are they fully authorised? Legally, a Loss Assessor must be fully ‘Authorised’ by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they have met the stringent standards required to manage an insurance claim on behalf of a policyholder. You can check whether a firm is authorised by visiting http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do.
  • Where are they located? Do they have a local team on hand to visit your property and work closely with you?
  • What will it cost you? Some loss assessing companies may charge an initial fee, or a percentage of your settlement upon completion, for example.
  • Do they have any case studies relating to claims similar to yours? Or even better, will they allow you to speak with their previous clients who have been in the same position as you?
  • Who do they work with? Typically, as part of the loss assessing service the company will draft in contractors from their own trusted network. You are within your rights to ask who these contractors are, or indeed source your own contractors (although doing so may affect the fee).

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