As the UK is gripped by exceptional rainfall, many landlords are currently checking their insurance policies to see what they can claim for flood damage and any help they may be entitled to. It is very important for landlords to have the correct insurance cover in place to ensure their premises are fully covered and they can recover from issues such as flooding as quickly as possible.
There is a general misconception that the Environment Agency offers an early warning system for all types of flooding. In reality this tends to focus on high tides and stormy weather which can cause coastal flooding and rivers to burst their banks. Other types of flooding such as pluvial/surface flooding will often occur in places you would not normally expect. Therefore, yes, the Environment Agency does offer assistance on some of the more conventional types of flooding but some things are just in the hands of nature.
Protecting against flood damage
While it will to a large extent depend on the location of your property, in the event of exceptional rainfall many areas of the UK could be significantly impacted. So, while you may not normally assume that protecting against flood damage is important for your rental premise, you could get a nasty surprise in the future if you don’t!
Some of the more common protections against flood damage include:-
- Installing flood barriers
- Non-return valves on sewers to prevent back flow
- Flood resistant building materials
- Raised electrical wiring
We have seen some property developers offering a degree of forward thinking on their developments by incorporating:-
- Drainage/run-off facilities
- Separating storm/foul water systems
- Water storage facilities
Unfortunately, for many landlords and developers it will come down to the cost of incorporating protection against flood damage. Private landlords have already seen their income slashed over the last couple of years and are often reluctant to spend on “non-emergency” additions. However, these systems do tend to pay for themselves in the long run as many private landlords could testify to – to their detriment.
Water entering your premises
The problem with water is it literally gets everywhere and there are numerous ways in which it can enter rental accommodation. These include:-
- Walls and floors
- Airbricks and vents
As a landlord you need to be aware of the potential risk of flood damage and at least attempt to mitigate problems in the future as much as possible. There will be occasions where flood damage may well be predicted and you can take precautionary measures. However, in the vast majority of cases this could all happen very quickly and you may not have much time to make the property “safe” such as turning off the electricity.
Claiming off your property insurance
There are many landlords in the UK who own and rent individual properties as a means of boosting their traditional income. While some may see this as a “side issue” from their day job, it is vital to treat this like a business and take out the appropriate insurance. Cutting corners in the short term may save you a few pounds but many landlords often fall by the wayside as a consequence of long-term inadequate property insurance.
In the event that your property is flooded and there is significant damage the first thing to remember is, do not throw anything away! This is all evidence which will be used and considered by an insurance company loss adjuster when they visit your property. On the whole loss adjusters tend to be fairly quick to the scene of significant flooding and you would expect to be seen within 48 hours. However, by definition this will depend upon the weather in the region and any specific risks to entering the property.
Contrary to popular belief, if you have the correct insurance for your property then the vast majority of insurance companies will act as quickly as possible to help you. This will involve the deployment of damage mitigation specialists who will use the latest techniques to remove contents and dry the property using state-of-the-art techniques. They will also advise you on any contents which can be restored or repaired and those which should be claim for. It is also worth noting that flood damage can take many months to repair to a level where tenants could return. So, if possible try to arrange temporary accommodation for your tenants.
Are you correctly insured?
We can only estimate the number of landlords who find out they are under insured, after the event. This is obviously too late and can prove to be extremely expensive to rectify. There have also been situations where private landlords have not been able to afford the repairs for uninsured damage. Some have been forced to sell their properties at a “giveaway price” in sheer desperation. When looking at insurance requirements there are many issues to take into consideration such as repairing your premises, lost income/profits and any increase in expenses as a consequence of the flooding.
The best way to find out the types of insurance you should consider is to ask your insurance broker. They should give you an array of options, ideas and suggestions going forward and then it is down to you as to which advice you take. Remember, flood insurance may seem like a waste of money in the short term but in the longer term it could literally be a lifesaver.