How to make a flood claim

Hundreds of businesses have been affected by the latest round of extreme weather, making 2012 the worst year for flooding since 2007.
So far, the South West has been worst hit by the floods, but with 250 flood warnings and 300 flood alerts in place for the rest of England and Wales, experts are warning that more households could yet be affected, including those in the North East and north Wales.
Accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that British insurers will absorb £1billion worth of flood-related claims this year, making it their biggest bill in five years.
If the warnings are a little late for you and you’ve already been affected, here’s some advice from Money Supermarket on what you can do to make a claim on your insurance, and what you can do to protect yourself for the future.
Making a claim
According to Lloyds TSB, the average claim for flood damage weighs in at £17,000, so it’s vital you follow a few simple steps to make sure your claim is both successful and comprehensive.
Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Most have a 24-hour emergency number to call in these circumstances. The insurer should give you some initial advice on what to do next.
Take photos of the flood damage as this will be useful to the insurer when it’s assessing your claim. Video footage is also good.
You may also want to mark the water levels in the walls for reference, but remember to use something that won’t be washed away, like permanent ink.
If your insurer has advised you to start repairing the damage and you are in a position to do so, make sure you use trusted, local tradesmen and keep hold of every single receipt so that you can claim the cost back from your insurer. You should also let your insurer know what repairs you’re having done as you go along.
Don’t start any repairs until your insurer gives you the green light as it may affect your claim if you do things without its knowledge.
Don’t throw away any flood-damaged items such as furniture or electricals (unless they pose any kind of health hazard) as they may not be beyond repair. Again, speak to your insurer for advice.
Fully drying your home out following a flood can take months. Your insurer will help you estimate how long it will take and can provide driers and dehumidifiers to help the process along.
You don’t want to add a personal injury claim on top of the claims for your contents, so remember to think safety first. The Environment Agency says that just six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over, so take care when moving through flooded areas and if possible, keep children and the elderly away from the water.
Keep a record of all correspondence with your insurer, including the times and dates of any phone calls and emails. Make a note of who you spoke to and any necessary reference numbers.
If your house in uninhabitable, you may need to temporarily move out into alternative accommodation. Most home insurance policies will cover the cost, so make sure you keep any receipts and invoices. Once again, your insurer will advise you what to do next.
If you are forced to leave your home, make sure the insurer has a contact telephone number they can reach you on at all times.

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