Making an insurance claim for flood damage
As most people are aware, 2014 will go down in history due to the serious adverse weather and the large number of properties that suffered flooding, particularly in the Somerset, Thames Valley, Surrey and West London regions.
Flood Damage to a property is without doubt one of the most stressful events that can happen to a homeowner. Generally damage is not isolated to just one area but extends to the whole of the ground floor, plus any basement or void in the property.
Over the years we’ve had considerable experience helping homeowners whose properties have suffered floods. In doing so we have encountered a number of common problems that can affect the speed and efficacy of flood damage insurance claims.
a) Understand what constitutes a flood
The Financial Ombudsman Online Technical Resource, provides members of the public with valuable advice regarding flooding especially when making a claim on buildings insurance. To help avoid pitfalls in making a claim, this resource also provides details of regular complaints they receive from policyholders following a claim submitted to insurers.
One of the most common complaints occurs where insurers have questioned whether a flood was actually the root cause of the water damage, as most insurance policies do not define what constitutes a flood.
Due to this, the Financial Ombudsman Service take the view that a flood does not have to be a sudden and violent event, such as a river bursting its banks. They generally say that flooding can happen where water enters, or builds up in, a property slowly and steadily. It does not have to be caused by the forces of nature, so water escaping from a pipe, or other household appliance, for example could be the cause of a flooded property.
More information: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/technical_notes/flooding.html
b) Report flood damage as soon as possible
Whatever the cause of flooding, it is important you report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible.
The restoration and reinstatement of a flood damaged property can take many, many months to carry out. Initially, it is important that specialists in the fire and flood restoration industry are appointed as quickly as possible.
c) Know that you have a choice in who carries out flood damage repairs
Whilst some insurance companies have their own approved repairer network, it is important policyholders are aware they have a choice in respect of the companies that will be carrying out the restoration and reinstatement work in their property.
Policyholders can appoint their own specialist claim reinstatement company to look after their interests and to act on their behalf in presenting the claim to insurers.
d) Minimise the spread of damage
The initial strip out and drying of the property is very important and this should be organised as quickly as possible so the damaged areas do not have any adverse affect to the areas that have not suffered. Before work commences, a property drying company should provide a full detailed report as to what actions they intend taking, including the type of equipment they propose to use.
Be aware! There is currently a worrying trend in the property restoration industry. A number of the larger national property drying companies have entered in to agreements with insurers to dry properties on a basis rate per room. The current figure they are working to is £300 per room. This figure is proving to be far too cheap to be able to carry out in accordance with standards of best practice in this field. All policyholders should be aware of this practice and a full detailed report should be requested, along with a wet map and the proposed time line for the required equipment.
We have experienced claims where the drying company appointed by insurers has removed equipment from a policy holders property before the drying is complete, as the equipment is required on a project where there is a profit! This is very poor practice and we have raised this with the insurers involved. The insurers in question have assured us this practice is being investigated along with the supply chain and costs. Before any reinstatement works are started, the property owner should ensure the property has been dried in line with industry standards.
e) Insist on a detailed schedule of reinstatement works
A full detailed Schedule of Works should be produced for the required reinstatement works. Policyholders also have choice and control in this respect and should consider engaging the services of a building company that specialises in insurance claims reinstatement works, such as Tangible Building Solutions.
The Schedule of Works produced should be clear concise and detailed. This will be presented to insurers for agreement. It is important policyholders are aware that most household policies are based on reinstatement and that is exactly what the policy holder is entitled to. Do not accept recommendations by insurance company representatives or loss adjusters if you do not feel comfortable with what is being suggested. Challenge these suggestions and anything else you feel is not correct or unfair. Seek insurance claims specialists to help.
Tangible Building are insurance claims builders with a wealth of experience in dealing with flood damage and carrying out high quality flood repairs and restoration work.
If you have suffered flood damage and require assistance with your insurance claim and remedial building works call us for advice on 0800 328 4188.