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Coping with floods - from insurance to inventories

By Matthew Plant

27 November2021

With over 200 flood warnings - and almost 300 flood alerts - in place around Britain, households across the country are preparing for the worst as the waters rise. Many others have already been evacuated.

At times like this, insurance really counts - and the Association of British Insurers publishes advice to help people deal with the threat (and the reality) of flooding.

Are you really at risk of flooding? Before we get to the ABI's advice, are you really at risk of flooding? The threat might not be as serious as you think - and the Environment Agency's website can show you whether there are any flood warnings in your area. It also shows you how to sign up for Floodline Warnings Direct, a free service designed to warn you while there's time to prepare.

Are you worried you're about to be flooded? As the ABI advises:

  • The most important thing is your own safety (you'll have to provide for any pets you have, too).
  • You might need emergency contact numbers (insurance company, utility companies and local authority) in a rush, so put them somewhere you can easily reach them - and make sure they're waterproof.
  • Get a flood kit ready:
    • contact telephone numbers
    • mobile phone & charger
    • details of your insurance policy
    • torch + battery
    • radio
    • wet wipes
    • rubber gloves
    • hand gel
    • first aid kit
    • any medication you use.

  • Try to move expensive / essential items out of harm's reach - upstairs, if possible, or to the attic.
  • Draw up an inventory of expensive / essential items you'd take with you if you had to evacuate.
  • Fasten any loose items that could damage things if they started floating around.

  • Have you already been flooded?

    If you've been flooded and it's damaged your home or its contents, there are steps you should take.
  • Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can. A 24-hour emergency helpline can tell you what to do next.
  • If you have to, you should arrange temporary emergency repairs to keep the damage from getting even worse. Make sure you tell your insurance company - and keep any receipts you're given.
  • Keep any damaged items in case they can be repaired, but don't keep anything that's a health risk - talk to your insurance company if you need some advice.

  • Are the floods forcing you out of your home?

  • Decide on valuables / essentials you can realistically take with you if you do have to evacuate. Clearly, it's better to do this in advance.
  • Tell your family & neighbours what you're doing and how they can get in touch.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Take emergency contact details - your insurance company will need this to stay in touch.
  • Don't return to your home until you've been told it's safe to do so.

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