Staying covered – what do you need to know?

For close friends of mine in New York, Superstorm Sandy meant losing electricity for 15 days. With two small children it was initially a mini crisis but the surprising upshot was how quickly the kids didn’t miss TV.

This is a half-glass full story on coping and nothing compared to what thousands of others went through and the miserable time many face here from floods.

But it’s these times we need to know insurance will cough up. And it’s not just home insurance – comparison site Gocompare this week advised that drivers should check their insurance as third party only or third party fire and theft policies are not covered for flood damage – meaning only drivers with a comprehensive motor insurance policy can claim. Home insurance covering the roof over us and our valuables is even more important. 10 years ago we would have saved the photo albums – these days it’s more likely we’ll grab the laptop first. Direct line insurance advises all home owners should now:

  • Make a list of useful numbers needed – your insurer, your local council, the emergency services and the number of Floodline, tel: 0845 988 1188
  • In the event of a flood warning, place valuable and electrical items in high cupboards or take them upstairs to reduce flood damage.
  • Store important documents, including insurance policy details and useful contact numbers in a watertight bag in a dry accessible place, preferably upstairs.

And if you do need to claim…

  • Call your insurance company’s (24 hour) Emergency Helpline as soon as possible – they can provide information on dealing with a claim and make the process easier.?* Take photographs or video footage and keep a record of flood or wind damage – it will help speed up the process.
  • Organise immediate emergency pumping/repair work if needed to protect your home from further damage. This can be done without insurer approval (but get receipts).
  • Beware of cowboy tradesmen and always check references. Your insurer can give advice on reputable contractors / tradesmen.
  • Check with your insurer if you have to move into alternative accommodation as the cost is normally covered under a policy, but ensure they can contact you.

Ultimately we all hope ‘it won’t happen to me’ but if it does – better to know everything is in place and not just the kids discovering life without TV…