Last word

Flooding on the Somerset Levels

Flooding on the Somerset Levels - Credit: Archant

As the clear-up on the Somerset Levels continues following the floods, a firm of insurance brokers recalls how staff dealt with claims over the winter and offers tips for householders

During the winter, insurance companies experienced a significant increase in claims they received, especially from those affected by the devastating floods on the Somerset Levels. Insurance broker Higos Insurance Services was very busy assisting clients and in the first six weeks of 2014 received more claims than it has ever handled in any six week period.

Head of Claims Stephanie Trebble says they anticipated an increase in claims was likely and immediately took steps by increasing the hours their Claims Department was available to assist clients who needed to make a claim.

Stephanie says when purchasing insurance it is essential to always provide accurate information to your broker or insurer.

“For example, not providing accurate details of the distance of your property from a river – or that a property is not your permanent residence - could impact on your ability to make a claim in the future.”

Higos feels that the Flood Re scheme (a not-for-profit scheme agreed between the Government and the industry to ensure flood insurance remains widely affordable and available) is in principle a good solution to a difficult problem, but is very disappointed with some of the exclusions which are likely to apply.

It has been suggested that a premium rate increase of up to 5% - applicable to all homes, not just those which have experienced flooding – could be introduced. Those properties which were affected by the floods, such as on the Somerset Levels, can expect to receive an increase to their premium rate and it is also almost certain the excess on their policy will be increased significantly.

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Analysts predict the damage caused to homes in the floods and storms will increase the cost of home and contents insurance by five per cent - the price rises are anticipated to be introduced in late 2014 or early 2015.

Householders in areas with a higher risk of flooding already have to pay more for their home insurance. It is not unusual for buildings and contents premiums to cost above £1,000 and for the excess to be greater than £10,000 should the policyholder need to make a claim, however excesses of this nature are normally only applied by insurers where flooding is viewed as inevitable rather than possible. The Association of British Insurers has stated that the average flood claim is between £20,000 and £40,000.

Higos Insurance Services supports the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) as they continue to lobby insurers and the Government for fairer access to insurance cover for those who have been affected by flooding.

BIBA has provided some insurance tips for those who have experienced flooding:

• Try to discuss any problems or concerns with your current insurer

• Understand your risk better by looking at the Environment Agency information online

• Obtain as much information as possible from the Environment Agency or other relevant authority, including an Environment Agency ‘insurance related request’ letter

• Consider investing in a flood risk mitigation survey

• Contact a specialist insurance broker which may have access to insurers that specialise in flood risk cover

• Sign up to the Environment Agency’s Floodline Warnings Direct

• Investigate flood products which would make your property more flood resistant

• Consider flood resilience measures which might be appropriate for your property

• Join a local flood action group via the National Flood Forum or Flood Group UK Facebook page.