When Storm Christoph forcibly hit the UK, households in danger were once again given a strong reminder to make sure their homes were properly prepared.
Last year, there was a 177 percent increase in storm claims compared to 2019 and a 90 percent increase in flood claims, data from Halifax Home Insurance shows.
This was likely due to Storms Ciara and then Dennis flooding the country earlier last year with claims rising 311 percent in January and 1,282 percent in February compared to the same months in 2019.
The number of floods also increased by a staggering 9,650 percent between February 2019 and 2020.
Storm Christoph engulfs parts of the UK as rain and snow settled in January
Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, said: “ We have not yet seen the temperature drop to Siberian levels as during the Beast from the East, but the Met Office has issued warnings that Storm Christoph will cause heavy rains and flooding during the next few days.
‘We know that houses are especially at risk of storm damage during the winter months and that the repair costs can be higher than people expect.
“Now that more of us are spending time at home, now is the time to do essential checks on your property and make sure you have the right level of insurance.”
Rural properties are particularly vulnerable to storms, according to insurer, NFU Mutual, as rainwater spills from steep slopes, as well as damage from wind storms.
It added that it handled more than 6,000 weather-related claims totaling more than £ 50 million after storms Ciara and Dennis hit the UK with both storm and flood damage in February 2020.
Even in the summer, from June to August 2020, the insurer handled 64 percent more weather claims than the year before, totaling £ 24 million. The vast majority of the 3,000 claims involved storm damage followed by lightning and flooding.
Homes and businesses have been submerged in many parts of the country and flood damage is expensive to repair, with dehydration and repairs bills costing an average of £ 20,000.
Sean Walkden, property claims manager at NFU Mutual, said: “ The February 2020 storms Ciara and Dennis were the worst weather events we have experienced since 2015, causing a mix of severe storm damage and flooding in more than 6,000 our clients’ homes, vehicles and companies in the UK.
‘Even if you don’t live near a river or by the sea, there can still be flooding. Preparation can help prevent damage and reduce recovery time after extreme events. ‘
The Environment Agency said the UK is seeing more extreme weather, with an increase in flooding, coastal erosion and landslides.
It added the most recent climate change forecasts confirming that we will experience wetter winters and drier summers, with an increased chance of more intense rainfall leading to flooding.
According to the 2018 UK climate change projections, mean sea levels could rise by more than a meter by the end of the century, underlining the importance of taking action now to adapt to flooding and coastal changes.
It took six months to repair the damage
Paul Meaker, from Wales, was one such person whose home was badly damaged by the storms last February.
He and his partner live in a cottage just 50 meters from a flooding river.
Paul, who works for an engineering firm, said: “On a Saturday evening in February, we woke up at 3:30 AM when the neighbor called to say there was water in our gardens. By the time we went down there was water in the lounge.
The images show only part of the destruction that hit Paul’s house last year
Over the next hour and a half, the water rose to at least two and a half feet. We saved what we could by taking it upstairs, but bulky items, like our sofas, were damaged beyond repair. ‘
The water came in through the front door, but by 8:30 the same morning it was all gone.
‘I can only describe it as complete destruction. One was offvery deep in the kitchen and another two meters in the dining room. We tried to figure out what to do as all our insurance papers were flooded. ‘
Paul was insured with Lloyds and after calling on Monday, an appraiser came on Tuesday and an electrician on Wednesday to fix the heating.
Unfortunately, all furniture downstairs was thrown out.
Paul said, “We were flooded on February 16. It took three months to dry the house and another eight weeks for all the work to be completed. It was the end of August when the work was finished. All in all, it was quite a traumatic experience. ‘
Since his experience, he has changed the floor below so that it can now be quickly pulled up and put down again in the event of another storm.
He also placed a storm gate in the front of the house and redesigned the masonry in the back of his house, trying to prevent the same.
How to prepare your home for stormy weather
Halifax Home Insurance, NFU Mutual, and MoneySuperMarket have provided some tips on how to prepare and protect your home from stormy weather.
1. Have a home emergency kit handy with essential items such as torches, canned food, medicines, blankets, warm clothing, home insurance documents, and emergency contact information.
2. In the event of a flood, turn off the main water, gas and electricity supplies and unplug all electrical parts, store them above or as high as possible. Disconnect the pipes to the washing machine and dishwashers to prevent damage if appliances move during flooding.
3. Remove all gutters and pipes from debris to prevent flooding in the event of heavy rainfall.
4. Check that garden fences and walls are in good condition and prune any trees or shrubs in your yard – branches can damage windows and roofs in windy weather.
5. Secure external fixtures such as garden lights and hanging plants, and bring garden furniture indoors.
6. Charge your mobile phone and keep your insurer’s number and any emergency contacts.
7. Check your insurance coverage so that you know exactly what you are covered for and who to contact in the worst case. Take photos before a flood occurs and also of damaged items, as this can help your insurer deal with a claim.
8. Stay informed with weather alerts. The Met Office offers live storm updates via Twitter and email. Listen for any local flood warnings by checking the radio and TV regularly.
9. Take preventive action: Once a flood warning is issued, sandbags and floodboards are in high demand, so book in advance. Sandbags can be used to seal doorways and can also be placed in sinks and toilets to prevent wastewater backflow. Block any air stones by using plastic sheeting if possible.
10. Protect your belongings and car: If you have time before the flood waters reach your area, take your car to higher elevations. Consider safe places where you can move your other personal items to protect them from damage. This could be electronics or belongings of personal value.
Rise: There was a 177% increase in storm claims and a 90% increase in flood claims in 2020
How to get a flood insurance policy
1. Notify your insurer: If a flood has caused damage that requires you to make a claim, report it to your insurer as soon as possible.
2. Organize evidence: take photos and / or video recordings of the flood and any damage caused. Also write down details such as the depth of the water.
3. Leave everything as it is: It is best to talk to your insurer before attempting to fix or repair anything that is damaged, in case it affects your claim.
4. Consider Seeing a Claims Adjuster: Insurance companies can appoint a claims adjuster to investigate a claim and decide how much to pay out. Claims adjusters can also represent your claim, but you will be charged for this service.
Kate Devine, home insurance spokeswoman at MoneySuperMarket, added: “It’s always important to get home insurance, but especially if your home is at risk of flooding.
‘Insurers cannot refuse cover for homes in flood risk areas, as long as the government still finances local flood defenses.’
Those living in high-risk flood areas should ensure that home insurance covers the costs of restoration and repairs to household contents and homes in the event of a flood.
The cheapest policy may not provide the right level of coverage for what you need, so make sure you get the right deal.
Compare different policies by the level and amount of coverage they offer, the minimum deductible you must pay, including any extras or inclusions, customer reviews and rankings, and the price of the policy.
If your insurance company offers flood insurance as part of the Flood Re scheme, you will have to pay a deductible of £ 250 to cover any losses or damage claims caused.
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