The most important thing to do is to make sure that you, your family, pets and livestock remain safe. Flood water is often dangerous, due to its speed, depth, hidden obstacles or contamination in the water. Either move to upper parts of the property and call for assistance, or leave the property by a safe, dry route. If anyone remains in the flooded property and the mains electricity supply was not turned off before the flood, do not touch any electrical appliances until you are told it is safe to do so. Remember to call 999 if there is any threat to life.
Once you are in a safe place:
- Notify your insurance company that the property has been flooded. Although you cannot yet identify the damage caused, you can establish whether they will provide alternative accommodation and emergency funds and the next steps in your claim. If your insurance company will not cover alternative accommodation, you could consider:
- staying with family, friends or neighbours (cheaper but not a long term solution)
- renting another property in the area
- staying in a hotel or guesthouse
- applying for housing to your local authority, if you fall into a priority housing need. For more advice see Shelter UK’s website.
- Notify family and your employer where you are and that you are safe.
- Do not return to the property until you are told it is safe to do so.
When you are allowed to return
- Follow these principles.
- Make your own record of the flood damage. More details are available here.
- Contact your insurance company again, if you have one. You may have done this already (to advise them that the property has been affected by flooding and to arrange temporary accommodation) but, once you regain access to the property, you will need to contact them again to arrange for a loss adjuster to visit and to establish how the claims process works.
- Clear away the damaged items, however it is essential that your maintain possession of any flood damaged items that you intend to claim against your insurance, as they may be required as evidence. It is possible that your local authority may offer a collective refuse collection scheme. Contact your local council to enquire about this.
- Start to organise the process of drying out and eventual repair/replacement. Where your insurer is covering part or all of the cost, the loss adjuster will be the main point of contact between you and the insurance company. Although decisions on the claim are the sole responsibility of the insurance company, who will usually still remain in contact with you, it is the loss adjuster who you will deal with on a regular basis. So do not commission works until the insurer has agreed. If you are not insured, you can start work immediately. More information on the role of loss adjusters and loss assessors is available here.
You may need your lender’s consent, or consent from a superior landlord, for any repairs or replacement of parts of the property, so check your mortgage deed, lease or call the lender. It is prudent to wait until you have that consent before starting work. For more information on things to consider about the clean up, see here.
- Consider whether you can build in better flood protection as part of your repairs. If your property is likely to flood again, you may want to do the repair work in a way that helps to reduce the damage that the next flood causes. This can be done by installing Property Level Protection (PLP). Sometimes your insurer will be willing to fund all or part of the cost of that work. For more information on the types of PLP available, their cost and suitability, see here.
Grant funding may be available to help meet the cost of PLP measures. Further information is available here.
There are recognised quality standards for PLP. More information is available here.
If PLP is not sufficient, you or your landlord may want to consider installing a pump to remove any flood water from any basement, under the ground floor or the base of the cavity walls of the property. More information on pumping systems, and other means of water removal means is available here. The landlord (if you have one) may only be willing to install a pump if you pay for it (either directly or through a service charge, where you only rent part of a building).
- Consider whether to claim compensation for loss of utilities. During flooding there may be gas, electrical and water cuts. If these are prolonged (2 hours or longer) and occur without prior notice, you may be entitled to compensation. Guidance on how much you may be entitled to and how to apply is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau on getting compensation if you have a power cut is available here. The Citizens Advice guidance page on getting compensation guidance document for an interruption to your water supply is available here.