Insurers are offering advice for homeowners who are affected by flooding to help minimise damage to their homes and what to do in the event of a flood.
Research from Lloyds TSB says that each incident causes and average of £17,000 worth of damage and insurers are urging homeowners who could be affected by the weather to take action now to help reduce any potential impact.
Tim Downes, Regional Manager, Personal Claims Consultants, said: "We are advising homeowners who are at risk to take steps now to reduce the risk of damage to their homes, and to monitor local news and weather updates."
There are currently 78 flood warnings across the UK which means close to five million people are potentially at risk from flooding.
Insurers are advising homeowners and businesses to find out where gas, water and electricity mains are on their property so that these can be turned off quickly if necessary.
Matthew Carter, Managing Director of Barclays Insurance, said: "It is crucial that people check whether they live in a flood prone area and take all the necessary steps to be prepared should they be affected. While you cannot prevent floods from occurring, you can make sure you are covered for the damage caused to building and contents through your home insurance policy."
The storms and heavy rain this week has once again put the focus on the lack of progress in getting flood defences set up in some areas that were flooded in recent years.
The AA is warning that the agreement set up to ensure vulnerable homes are covered, through the ‘statement of principles’ expires at the end of June 2013 and that an extension or alternative needs to be agreed.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance says: "There are 200,000 UK homes at serious flood risk, and 2.4 million homes at some risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. The majority of them have been able to insure their homes thanks to the agreement, but that ends on 30 June next year.
"There's little sign yet of a replacement. These families must be wondering whether they will be able to find affordable insurance from that date and I'm concerned at the apparent lack of progress."
Mr Douglas says talks between the government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) are taking place to ensure flood cover is available to all at an affordable price but that no appropriate resolution has been agreed.
Here are some top tips on how to protect your home from flooding:-
- Place sandbags outside doors, airbricks, windows and any other holes to reduce the amount of water entering your property
- Turn off the mains supplies of water, gas and electricity
- Unplug all electrical items, and store them upstairs or as high as possible
- Disconnect pipes to washing machine and dishwashers to avoid damage if appliances move during the flood
- Move as much furniture as possible upstairs, weigh down large items that can't be lifted with sandbags so they don't move and cause damage
- Empty contents of cupboards and drawers, and store upstairs or as high as possible
- Move rugs and curtains upstairs or to higher ground
- Keep your home insurer's policy details and telephone numbers to hand in case you need to make a claim
- Remember to move sentimental items such as photograph albums to a safe place, as they cannot be replaced.
If your home has been flooded
- Ensure mains supplies of water, electricity and gas have been checked for damage by a qualified engineer before reconnecting
- Dry out appliances that have been affected by water and ensure a qualified electrician or Gas Safe registered engineer inspects them before use
- Open doors and windows to ventilate and dry out the property. Ensure the home has completely dried before attempting redecorating work
- Contact your insurer and report any damage caused to buildings and/or contents as soon as possible
- Take photographs of damaged items as it may help your insurer to settle a claim
- Keep any ruined property as insurers may want to inspect it.
In an emergency
- Keep a home emergency kit prepared in case of a winter emergency such as a flood or severe storm. This could include sandbags, torches, spare bulbs and batteries, your home insurance documents, other emergency contact details, tinned food, warm clothing and blankets
- Listen to the radio for regular updates on the weather or other emergency situations.