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Fighting the flood – protection for your home and possessions

According to the Environment Agency, over five million people* in England and Wales live and work in properties that have some flood risk from nearby rivers or the sea. Surface water is also a source of flooding and can affect any property.

Floods can be surprisingly quick to develop and we often hear of people having less than half an hour’s warning of a river or stream bursting its banks. While it’s impossible to completely flood-proof a property, it’s important to have flood defences in place or just a plan of action to help reduce the damage flooding can cause.

Pre-flood checks

If you live in flood risk areas make flood plans to help you decide what practical action to take before and during a flood, which will help reduce the damage flooding could cause.  Prepare a flood kit of essential items such as: a broom, spade, mop and bucket, domestic detergent and disinfectant, rubber gloves and wellingtons.

Make sure you know how to turn off your gas electricity and water if you need to evacuate your home.

If you know your home is at risk, think about investing in flood defences such as a purpose-built flood board or covers that are placed over air or ventilation bricks to stop water coming in. You could also consider fitting non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes to stop water and sewage backing up in to the house.

There are things that you can do to lessen the likelihood of flood water getting in to your property. However, Claire Holland, Customer Relationship Manager, at Ecclesiastical Insurance explains, “In the case of bigger floods the water actually needs to get in to the property otherwise the weight of the water outside might cause the building to collapse.”

Advice during a flood

Safety comes first, think about evacuation before it is too late to move. If flood water is about to enter your home, turn off the gas, electricity and water but never touch sources of electricity when there is standing flood water.

Move your valuable possessions, sentimental and irreplaceable items to safety, if you can move them upstairs. Take as much furniture as you can to the upper floors of your home, if you can’t move them lift them on to blocks or bricks to minimise the damage. You can also mount your TV, to the wall about 1.5 metres above floor level.

Think about moving your car to higher ground if you know there is a threat of flooding. The Environment Agency has a free floodline warning system can give you advance notice of flooding which will give you valuable time to prepare adequate flood protection. To find out more or to register go to: Floodline.

Remember if you have a basement that will be the first area to flood. Flash flooding, especially from a build up of surface water is a real threat to homes with basement rooms. The water can pour in off the pavement quickly, inundating the room.

Advice after the flood

Call your insurer as soon as possible after the flood to report your claim. They will have access to a wide range of specialists to help with the drying out and cleaning up of your property.

Take photographs of any damage to the building and your belongings. Don’t throw anything away until you have spoken to your insurance company and you have been told it is ok to do so.

If there is any chance that electric sockets have come in to contact with the flood water, and you did not switch off the electricity before the water entered your home, turn it off at the mains. Always have a qualified electrician check the electrics before you switch it back on. If you have turned off your gas supply make sure a GasSafe registered tradesperson checks that too before it is turned back on. 

“Having your home devastated by a flood is traumatic enough, but to then discover you are not properly insured would be devastating. It’s important to really think about just how much you have in your home and the cost of replacing it all if you are not insured, or are under insured.

Ecclesiastical’s buildings and contents insurance has flood cover as standard. If you are not sure how well your home insurance covers the effects of flooding then it is advisable to contact your insurer for advice,” concludes Claire.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.