Brrrr – it’s cold, and wet … and slippery out there!

With the worst of the winter weather yet to come and many people working from home it is more important than ever to inspect your property and be prepared.

Planning for an ‘unexpected’ event may appear unrealistic, but with good management and forethought it is possible to avoid some, and manage other unforeseen scenarios before they become crises. For instance:

Many weather conditions such as rain, ice, snow, wind and freezing temperatures, can cause damage, but will generally only result in a major problem if a property is not in good repair.

Undertaking a winter health check on your property is important and should include inspecting the guttering, roofs and water pipes, confirm the heating system is in good working order, and most importantly, ensure you have adequate insurance cover and meet all the policy conditions. If all these boxes are ticked, you should be fully covered if you do ever have to make a claim.

In addition, it is advisable to check entrances and exits and consider whether you should have sand, grit or salt available to reduce the possibility of anyone falling at or on your property. Claims for injury can be expensive, so do everything you can to protect yourself and visitors. If you own business premises and staff are working on site it is more important than ever to undertake a Risk Assessment and adhere to this advice.

Make sure everyone is aware of what you have planned and where the sand is kept – in an easily accessible place – otherwise your best intentions and preparation may all fall apart!

Everyone living in a flood risk area should be aware and do everything they can to prevent ingress of water. However, sometimes it is impossible.

In that eventuality it is vital to know what to do and to proceed with great care in case of contamination, electrocution or other risk.

If flooded, the policyholder must contact their insurer or broker as soon as possible so that the claim can be dealt with swiftly.

The policyholder should:

  • Note the time of the incident
  • Take photos of damage wherever possible
  • Retain all items that are damaged and need repair or replacement

The insurer or broker should inform the policyholder of the clean-up process to:

  • Remove water, including foul water
  • Review any structural damage
  • Clear out damaged fixtures and fittings
  • Areas flooded with contaminated water will require disinfecting post cleaning
  • Prevent mould
  • Dry out the property
  • The insurer or broker should also commission an inspection of the property, using a Loss Adjuster to assess the claim and approve repairs / replacements under the terms of the policy.
  • Thereafter there will be communication with the policyholder regarding how and when the works will be undertaken.
  • Depending upon how severe the problem, it may be necessary for the policyholder to vacate the property for the duration of the repairs, so it is important to check that any policy would cover the costs of that eventuality.

    It is important to check that you have is adequate cover.

    Underinsurance was estimated at 79% in a report released earlier this year by Rebuild Cost Assessment. And based on claims made in 2015/16, Zurich believe that the cost of reinstatement following a flooding incident is between £24,000 and £46,000 – a good yardstick by which to assess whether you are fully covered.

    The National Audit Office has recently revealed that flood defence funding has fallen in deprived areas, so this could cause extreme hardship.

    Morag Keohane, Head of Insurance at Caxtons says “Whilst we would normally expect to be able to include flood cover in the insurance policies we arrange, this does depend on claims history and property location. However, we are always more than happy to provide quotes for consideration, so it pays to ask the question.”

    If you would like to discuss any issues relating to buildings insurance then contact Morag Keohane by email ([email protected]) or telephone 01474 537733.

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