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Insurers report good progress repairing properties after Decembers floods

The number of insurance claims for flooded homes and businesses made in the wake of December’s storms has climbed to more than 15,000 with 85% of these either fully or partly paid out so far, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said today.

The average cost of each domestic claim for the floods caused by Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank is around £50,000 which is higher than usual and reflects the extensive damage caused by the flood waters in some locations.

Insurers are spending nearly £27.5 million on alternative accommodation for affected families while their properties are repaired. The final bill for all repairs is expected to reach £1.3 billion.

Mark Shepherd, Manager of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said:

“Being flooded is horribly traumatic, not only because of the initial devastation but also because of the time it can take to get your home and business fully repaired and back in working order. Insurers are committed to getting all customers back in their properties as safely and as quickly as possible and it’s good to know that thousands of homes and businesses are getting back to normal nearly six months on. Small businesses are the lifeblood of many local economies and insurers have been working flat out to get many open and trading again.

“Repairing a flooded building cannot be rushed because of the importance of making sure it is properly dried out before repairs are done. The work needed to fully restore every single property affected in December continues with the same sense of urgency as in the immediate aftermath.”

After the floods – Q&A

Why do flood damaged properties take so long to repair?
The drying stage is one of the most important parts of the repair process, and it can take a significant amount of time. When properties are flooded by several feet of water, it gets deep into the brickwork and structure of the building. The building needs to be completely dried out before repairs and rebuilding start, and that means dry deep into the walls, not just dry at the surface. We know new technology is being used more often to speed this process up where possible but it isn’t always suitable for all properties.

Repairs done to a property which isn’t completely dry may create future problems for the owner or resident. There also needs to be full decontamination to ensure the property is safe to return to.
What’s happening to people whose homes aren’t fixed yet?
Where properties aren’t ready for people to return to them, insurers will be funding alternative accommodation as required. Some people may choose to live in the upper storeys of their property or to stay with friends or family members instead. Businesses may also be offered alternative premises to trade from for a period.

Why have some claims not had any money paid out so far?

Payments have been made towards 85% of claims. Where payments haven’t yet been made there are several likely reasons for this: a contractor carrying out work may not yet have yet billed the insurer, or the policy holder may be choosing to plan other improvement works on top of the repairs for example. Insurers will look to make interim payments where necessary and provided £70 million in emergency payments in the immediate aftermath of the floods, to both homes and businesses.

What can people do to reduce the chance of their home or business being flooded again?
Repairing a property after a flood gives home and business owners a valuable opportunity to think about installing flood resistance and resilience measures which should help keep the water out in future, or reduce the damage done. Measures to consider include individual flood gates, waterproof plaster, tiled floors and even stainless steel kitchen units.

How will people who were flooded in December be able to find insurance in future?
Properties which have flooded or are in high risk flood areas can face higher insurance bills because it is much more likely the insurer will need to pay out to deal with a flood, which can cost tens of thousands of pounds. Insurers were worried about people in flood risk areas starting to find cover unaffordable so, along with Government, they created a new scheme called Flood Re which is now up and running. This is a scheme which helps householders find more affordable cover, funded by a levy on the industry, and companies taking part are listed here.

Businesses should consider using a specialist broker and ensure they fully understand the risk of flooding to their premises so they can make their business as resilient as possible, potentially by installing flood resistance and resilience measures.

It remains vital that Government invests in the long-term flood risk management of these areas in order to better protect them from the chances of future flooding. The ABI will continue to lobby for greater investment from core Government expenditure for the effective management of flood risk throughout the UK.

Last updated 01/07/2016