“Insurers there for as long as it takes after Storm Desmond flooding”, urges trade body

10th December 2015


Insurance firms have set out the key stages in getting flooding victims back into their homes and businesses as soon as possible.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) noted that insurance firms, claims handlers and loss adjusters who did not already have local teams in affected areas began arriving a week ago, before Storm Desmond took hold, in anticipation of severe flooding.

The trade body said that representatives will now be on the ground for many months to come to help the thousands of affected families and businesses get back on their feet.

However repairing a property after a flood can be long and complex and the process can only begin once the building is fully dried out. The ABI said that while this work is happening insurers will be supporting customers with emergency payments and, where necessary, arranging temporary accommodation or trading premises for homeowners and businesses.

The ABI laid out the six key stages for people who have been affected, these include:

  1. Immediate aftermath: insurers and their teams are in affected areas proactively contacting customers wherever possible and helping people get their claims under way. If you need to move out of your home or business premises your insurer is there to help you find temporary accommodation.
  2. Assessing the damage:If your property or contents has been badly damaged someone may be appointed by your insurer to make an initial assessment of the damage and to explain the repair process, as soon as it is safe to enter your property.
  3. Cleaning and stripping out: your loss adjuster will organise the cleaning and stripping out of your home or business, once the waters have receded. This should start within 4 weeks of their first visit.
  4. Disinfecting and drying out: a drying company will be appointed to disinfect and fully dry out the building. This process can take from a few weeks to several months depending on the extent of water damage.
  5. Repair and reconstruction: a builder will be appointed to undertake repair and reconstruction work, or you can talk to your insurer about using a company of your choice, once a certificate is issued by the drying out company. Antibacterial and antifungal treatments will be included.
  6. Moving back in: your insurer or loss adjuster will discuss with you when it is safe for you to return. In some cases this may be many months or more than a year later, particularly if major reconstruction works are required.  Your insurer will help pay for alternative accommodation in the meantime.

Mark Shepherd, general insurance manager at the ABI, said: “The suffering of families and businesses affected by flooding goes on long after the flood waters recede. Insurers and their teams of experts will be there alongside them, as the hard work of rebuilding gets under way.

“Being flooded is traumatic and of course people want to get back into their properties and get their lives back to normal as soon as possible, especially with Christmas approaching. However repairing a flooded property can take time. The drying process is crucial to ensuring repairs can be completed successfully and properties will be safe to return to. Insurers are committed to beginning the decontamination, drying out and repair process as quickly as possible and ensuring all those involved work well together to meet the needs of affected customers.”

This week the Chancellor George Osborne unveiled a £50m fund to help households and businesses who have been hit by the flooding from Storm Desmond in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Each family would be able to claim up to £5,000 to protect their homes from future damage. Osborne revealed the plan in answer to a question from shadow first secretary of state Angela Eagle who asked whether those affected could have a guarantee of receiving help quickly.

Eagle said only 15% of those affected by last winter’s floods had received promised financial assistance.

As part of the announcement, the Scottish government will receive almost £4m to help communities affected by flooding caused by Storm Desmond. The Government has already announced that about 5,000 homes and businesses hit by floods in Cumbria and Lancashire would be given temporary relief from their council tax and business rates.

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