If you have household insurance then read on – whether tenant or home owner
Ring your insurance company or landlord immediately – they will send a loss adjuster as soon as they can (usually in a day or so). Do not use this as an insurance “opportunity”. Fraud is a criminal offence and will lead to your claim being cancelled. Loss adjusters are professionals who are keen to help honest people and they like claimants who do everything reasonable to mitigate their own loss. Communicate clearly and clarify what terms of reference the insurance company feels is reasonable regarding your claim.
Fully insured; new for old – You should get full recompense of all expenses, less any excess on your policy.
Fully insured – You may get full recompense but the policy may adjust downwards for fair wear and tear and general depreciation since new. A 15 year old kitchen does not always justify a new kitchen!
Under-insured – You should get the “fair percentage”. The insurance company will take the rebuild cost you have insured for, when compared with the current correct rebuild cost of your whole house. In simple terms a house of rebuild value £100,000 insured for only £75,000 will result in a flood claim of £25,000 being reduced by 25% due to the under-insured loss.
Try to remain calm and courteous at all times. Keep a book with a record of all conversations and communications with your insurers, and various contractors and consultants. The next phase is a complex project and will benefit from as many organisational skills as you can provide.
Our advice is to take photographs of everything; keep the insurance company informed of what you are doing. Try to “stop” and make a plan, e.g. photograph everything – structure, appliances, furniture and contents, watermarks, etc. If you or your family have to move out or need to leave the area, make realistic decisions. Many houses will take 6 months or even longer (depending on type of construction), to dry and become habitable – this is not a two week problem! You may have to live in your house until the loss adjuster arrives and tells you what will happen. In the meantime, make a list of what has been damaged and keep this somewhere safe. If you have a camera (a disposable one will do) or a camcorder, take pictures or film everything. Ask if your insurance covers you for alternative accommodation. If so, you may be able to move into a hotel, while you look around for a rented property. Recover valuables and put them somewhere safe. Use rubber gloves when you’re handling them and put them in bags or boxes. Most articles can be professionally restored. Don’t make rash decisions.
Your insurance company (via your loss adjusters) will arrange for a professional cleaning company to come and undertake work, or if the damage is severe, appoint a “strip-out” contractor to remove flood-damaged walls and floors plus damaged goods. This may include kitchen units, and all electrical fittings.
Local supplies of disinfectant, brushes, driers, generators, pumps, builders and tradesmen will run out fast. Make a full list of emergency cleaning items to get ahead of the game by arranging for someone to collect these for you, from perhaps outside the local area. When the floodwater subsides it’s vital to clear standing water as quickly as possible. Bricks and concrete floors soak up water relatively slowly, but conversely take months to dry out if they have been left standing in water for a long period (1 inch per month). Fast action at this stage will save months of drying time later. Dehumidifiers and fans can be hired from most good hire shops and will reduce the risk of health problems associated with dampness.
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