Getting back into your home following flooding

Insurance advice

If you have household insurance, call them or your landlord immediately. They will send a loss adjuster as soon as they can. Do not use this as an insurance 'opportunity'. Fraud is a criminal offence and will lead to your claim being cancelled. Loss Adjusters are professionals who are keen to help honest people and they like claimants who do everything reasonable to mitigate their own loss. Communicate clearly and clarify what terms of reference the insurance company feels is reasonable regarding your claim.

The ABI has also produced a leaflet on what to expect from your home insurer. This leaflet includes information on how your insurance company should respond in an emergency situation.

Here are some insurance covers and what they mean:

Fully insured; new for old – you should get full recompense of all expenses, less any excess on our policy.

Full insured – you may get full recompense but the policy may adjust downwards for fair wear and tear and general depreciation since new. A 15-year-old kitchen does not always justify a new kitchen.

Under-insured – You should get the 'fair percentage'. The insurance company will take the rebuild cost you have insured for, when compared with the current correct rebuild cost of your whole house. In simple terms a house of rebuild value £100,000 insured for only £75,000 will result in a food claim of £25,000 being reduced by 25% due to the under-insured loss.

Try to remain calm and courteous at all times. Keep a book with a record of all conversations and communications with your insurers and various contractors and consultants. The next phase is a complex project and will benefit from as many organisational skills as you can provide.

Keep photographs of everything; regularly update the insurance company with letters, emails or handwritten notes of what you are doing. Try to 'stop' and make a plan. If you or your family have to move out or need to leave the area, make realistic decisions. Many houses will take six months or even longer.

Your insurance company (via your loss adjusters) will arrange for a professional cleaning company to come and undertake work, or if the damage is severe, appoint a 'strip-out' contractor to remove flood-damaged walls and floors plus damaged goods. This may include kitchen units and all electrical fittings.

If you're a tenant and have taken out contents insurance, household contents, fixtures and fittings should be covered. It's normally the responsibility of your landlord to provide building insurance. However you are advised to check with your landlord and your policy.

If you have no household insurance

If you're uninsured you will most likely be responsible for covering all costs of flood damage. Remember to keep records of damage (including photos and notes).

Getting work done to your home

If you're uninsured, you'll need to clean up your home yourself. See the advice on the cleaning up after a flood page.

If you need to arrange for a local builder or contractor to do some work for you use the traders4u website, which lists reputable Surrey tradesmen who we've approved to carry out works.

When hiring a tradesman, consider the following:

  • Get a quote in writing setting out exactly what is going to be done, when it will be done and what the price will be.
  • If possible, try and get three quotes before deciding who to give the work to. Never pay all the money up front.
  • If at all possible, try and pay at least £100 by credit card - not all tradesmen will accept credit cards but there is protection if things go wrong.
  • After the work is done, if there are problems, raise it with the trader and ask to resolve. If they won't, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service to log a complaint on 08454 04 05 06. They will advise on the next steps and Trading Standards will also monitor to see if there are particular issues with particular tradesmen based on high levels of complaints.

You might also want to contact Action Surrey if you are having work done to your home. They provide impartial energy advice on additional improvements you could consider at the same time to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable. For example, if your home needs to be re-plastered this is an ideal opportunity to also install insulation and take advantage of the Government's cash back scheme. Likewise with boilers Action Surrey can advise on Government schemes which assist with the cost of replacing inefficient boilers. Action Surrey also manages a network of local and trusted installers ranging from insulation to boilers to handyperson services.

Dealing with rogue traders

Insurance companies may have approved suppliers and tradesmen to carry out the work so check with them before carrying out any work. If you're not insured, use a trader through the approved trader scheme. These are all reputable and approved tradesmen who can carry out your work.

Protecting your home from future floods

If your home is in a flood risk area or has been flooded, bear in mind the following advice when undertaking renovations or repairing flood damage.

  • Fit plug sockets, boilers and service meters higher up on walls.
  • Choose water resistant door and window frames (and use silicone sealant).
  • Get a chemical damp proof course below joist level if your house does not have a DPC; and install airbricks with removable covers or automatic airbricks.
  • Replace mineral insulation within walls with closed cell insulation.
  • Consider non-return valves in sewage pipes to prevent sewage backing up into the house.
  • Check access points for pipes (like washing machines) for gaps and fill.
  • Use waterproof sealant on external walls; waterproof paint on internal walls.

If there's a choice of materials and appliances to have in your home:

  • Go for solid flooring (concrete covered with treated timber or sealed tiles), which are more resistant than floor boards or chipboard.
  • Have wood or plastic kitchen and bathroom units rather than MDF or chipboard.
  • Pick lime or cement render as it's more water resistant than normal plaster.
  • Replace ovens with raised, build under types.
  • Choose rugs rather than fitted carpets.