What can we learn from the floods of Christmas past?

Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank caused flood chaos over last year’s Christmas period, causing an estimated £1.3bn in claims. What can property owners learn to protect their portfolios from the threat of similar damage this winter?

For property owners, devastating flooding caused by the heavy storms of 2015/16’s Christmas and New Year period was the ultimate worst case scenario, causing an estimated £1.3bn in claims.
Despite efforts to strengthen the UK’s defences, even properties which have never previously been affected are increasingly at risk of flood damage – with 1 in 6 now estimated to be at risk. As the owner of a real estate portfolio of any size, what can you do to increase your property’s flood resilience in the event of more adverse weather?

1. Plan ahead
Considering possible scenarios and anticipating problems before they occur is vital, both for individual properties and commercial portfolios. Although a property’s previous flooding history is not necessarily an indicator of future risk, it is a good idea to identify any weaknesses and invest in simple, temporary measures such as sandbags. All properties can benefit from putting plans in place, especially if you have tenants – identify how you will source alternative accommodation, and note the contact details of a range of contractors to engage in the event of a crisis.

2. Reinstate for resilience, not speed
If flood damage leaves you needing to reinstate a property, take the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of its flood defences. This could include rebuilding using airbrick covers, and water-resistant materials, putting in flood doors, or raising electrical sockets and door thresholds. The rebuild process can’t be rushed, as the property must completely dry out first. Paul Cobbing, head of the National Flood Forum charity, warns that simply returning properties to their pre-flooded state leaves them vulnerable to future damage.

3. Keep it covered
Check your buildings and contents insurance policies to see what cover it provides for flood damage. Keep the policy up-to-date on any flood resistance changes you have made, as this could reduce your excess charges or premiums. When a flood occurs, listen to the claims advisors and loss adjustors who are working on your case – their expertise is usually the best source of information on time scales and resolving situations.

For more information, contact Hine Insurance on 0161 438 0000 or email info@hine.co.uk.

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