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Flood insurance advice for Warwickshire residents

Residents in Warwickshire who have been affected by the weekend’s flooding are being advised by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Trading Standards on what they should do if they have suffered flood damage.

Ruined or damaged carpets, furniture, electrical items and other personal items are some of the things homeowners will now want to try and claim for on their insurance policies.

First priorities…

• Contact your contents and building insurer on their emergency helpline as soon as possible. They will provide assistance on making a claim and, if necessary, they should also help with alternative emergency accommodation (this is normally covered under a household policy).

• If you don’t know the name of your insurance company, speak to your broker, insurance adviser, mortgage lender or bank (direct debit/standing order payments can be used by them to identify your insurer) who may be able to provide details.

• If you are in rented accommodation, speak to your landlord or local authority where you pay your rent.

• Your insurer will expect you to take reasonable steps to protect property. Therefore, take easily moveable objects upstairs and, if possible, use sandbags to hold back the water. For the sake of safety, make sure the electrical supply is switched off at the mains and equipment unplugged.
• As for cars and other vehicles, comprehensive insurance should cover flood damage. However, third party cover won’t pay out if your vehicle is damaged by flood.
When flood waters have receded…

• You can take up carpets, but you must retain them so that the insurance company loss adjuster can see them and verify the claim.

• It is very important that you keep all damaged items rather than throw them away, for the same reason. If necessary, store them outside, in your garden or elsewhere.

• Keep a record of the damage. Ideally take photos or video of the flood damage. If you don’t have a camera to hand, take notes of what happened and the damage caused.

• If emergency pumping or repair work is necessary, you should have this done. You don’t need to go through your insurance company for this, but you should be able to claim the cost back from your policy. Keep all your receipts and paperwork.

• Flooding can cause structural damage. The roof line is often a good indicator, check for any changes. If you suspect there is a problem, inform your insurer and get the property checked out as soon as possible.

• You should make claims directly to your insurer, in most cases there is no need for using service companies to negotiate on your behalf. Claims management companies will charge you for their service, and if you decide to use them, you should ensure that they are registered by the Financial Services Authority.

If you have to leave your house…

• Most household insurance policies will cover the cost of alternative accommodation, if the property is uninhabitable. Insurers recognize that customers need regular payments to cover accommodation costs and emergency expenses, so contact your insurer directly and explain the situation. 

• Make sure your insurance company knows where to contact you. If you have a mobile phone, make sure they have the number.

• Leave your house secure. Lock windows and doors and turn off electricity and other utilities.

Useful contacts:

• For further flood insurance advice, visit the Association of British Insurers website at http://www.abi.org.uk.

• For advice on your consumer rights telephone Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards

• For advice on what to do if you have experienced flooding and for information on help available, visit Warwickshire County Council’s Emergency Planning Unit website: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/epu

• For advice on repairing and restoring flood damaged property contact the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or visit their website: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk

• If you are in dispute with your insurance company, for example in relation to a claim, your can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service for advice and to make a complaint. Telephone: 0845 080 1800 or visit http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk