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Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank. No, not the names of the cast of the latest reality TV show, but the names of the storms to have hit the UK since November 2015 – the latest of course being Storm Frank which decimated the UK at the tail end of 2015. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimate that insurers will have to pay out more than £1 billion to individuals and companies affected by the floods caused by Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank. Thousands of homes in Scotland were left without power as December 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded in the UK with almost twice as much rainfall as normal. We all will have seen the photos and videos of the flooding that Storm Frank brought, but what should those affected by flooding do?

Firstly, if you’re the homeowner, contact your insurers and report the flooding immediately. If, however, that’s not possible and you’re spending hours on hold to your insurers, arrange for any repairs to be done by a qualified tradesman and keep the receipts. These can later be submitted to your insurer as part of the claim. The benefit of home insurance is that it will cover you for any damage to your property and may include cover for alternative accommodation if you have no access to your property, whilst it is flooded or unsafe. Typically buildings insurance will cover the property itself, whilst contents insurance will cover possessions.

With possessions, keep damaged items (unless they’re dangerous to your health) in order that your insurance company can assess the damage and whether the item can be repaired or needs to be replaced. It is likely that a loss adjuster will visit your property to assess the damage to both the property itself and your possessions. More than 8,3000 initial visits have been made by loss adjusters to affected homes already.

As with any insurance policy, carefully check your documents to assess whether you have a policy “excess” – that is the amount you are required to pay personally towards repairing or replacing your property. Your excess may be higher if you live in an area at a great risk of flooding. Most insurance companies will offer to pay for alternative accommodation, up to a set limit.

Unfortunately, as with any type of insurance claim, it may take several months for your insurer to pay out for the damage. However, your insurer may be able to make an emergency pay payment to assist with clothing and food. According to the ABI, over £24 million has already been paid out in the form of emergency payments to assist individuals and companies affected.

What happens though if you’re in the even more unfortunate position of not having insurance cover to protect your home? The best thing to do is to immediately contact your local authority who may be able to assist you with a hardship grant or provide an alternative form of assistance.

We seem to be seeing an increase in the occurrence of flooding in recent years, which takes a great toll on the economy but more importantly on individuals, through the damage to property and the loss of possessions. If you have any insurance-related queries, contact Thompsons on 0800 0891 331.  

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