Making an insurance claim for flood damage
Starting a claim for flood damage
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced a guide outlining the general process of a claim for flood damage, available at www.abi.org.uk.
For general information on what you need to think about when making a claim on your insurance, see Making a claim on your insurance policy.
The following steps are particularly relevant for claims for flood damage:
- take photographs of any damage to the structure of the property and its contents
- prepare a detailed inventory of your home contents, if you haven’t done so already
- take a note of the reading on your electricity meter so that you can claim back the running costs of commercial dryers
- phone your insurer to start the claim as soon as possible, as often time limits will apply
- retain a copy of any documents or pictures you send to the insurer, or you receive from them
- ask for a record of any calls made in reference to the claim
- if you are a vulnerable customer, for example because you are disabled or elderly, make the insurer aware of this. They may prioritise your claim
- ask from an indication of how long it will take to settle the claim
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced a guide to how insurers should respond to flood damage, available at www.abi.org.uk.
Different insurers have different ways of dealing with building work and repairs. For example, the insurer might:
- tell you a maximum sum of money (the 'settlement') that they are willing to pay out for the claim and leave you to organise cleaning and repairs to this budget
- ask you to get quotations from builders from which the insurer will decide who to award the contract to
- assign a person known as a loss adjuster to organise the repairs and keep costs down for the insurer
For more information, see Building work and repairs for flood damage.
During the assessment period of your claim, if you cannot stay in your home, temporary accommodation will be organised. You should be kept informed of the progress of your claim.
Loss adjusters are employed by insurance companies to assess the damage and decide what will be paid for and how much will be paid. Usually they will try to reduce the cost of a claim.
You may have to negotiate with the loss adjuster to ensure that you receive a settlement amount that you are happy with. You should:
- check the terms of your policy. For example, are you entitled to new for old? Ensure you receive what you are entitled to
- look for your own quotations for replacing damaged items with the same quality and spec
- consider employing a loss assessor to represent your interests. This will incur extra costs. You can find a loss assessor on the Institute of Public Loss Assessors website at www.lossassessors.org
- negotiate with the loss adjuster about the installation of flood resilient fixtures and fittings. You could argue that this would reduce the loss should the home be flooded again in the future
Check the settlement includes what is covered under your policy
See Home insurance for flooding for tips on checking your policy for exclusions.
You may want to ensure that your settlement includes everything that is covered under you policy, such as:
- the electricity running costs of commercial dryers
- repairs to the garden or out-buildings
- reimbursement for temporary accommodation
You may be able to stay in your home while building and repair work is happening, for example if you have habitable rooms upstairs and working gas and/or electricity. You should consider, however, whether you want to stay in the property while building work is underway.
If you cannot stay in the property, your insurance company may organise temporary accommodation or reimburse you for temporary accommodation you have organised yourself. This may be a hotel initially, and then rented accommodation in the longer term. Ask your insurance company to provide you with a timetable for completion of the repairs and an estimate of when you will be able to return to your home.
If you are older and/or disabled, you should be provided with accommodation that meets your needs. For example, wheelchair accessible doorways.
While you are living in temporary accommodation, you could ask your local authority to waive council tax on your flooded home until the property is re-inhabited. You will have to pay for council tax for the temporary accommodation.
If you have problems making an insurance claim, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help and advice.
Sometimes insurers reject a claim because the information you provided when asking technical questions about your flood risk was incorrect. For more information, see Home insurance for flooding.