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Have your say: Flooding and Insurance

River Gare at Keswick
Heavy rainfall has caused flooding in Cumbria, with Keswick badly hit

How did your insurance company treat you when your property was damaged by flooding? Do you feel you were treated fairly?

The insurance industry has a commitment to continue insurance for people even in areas of known flood risk.

So all those affected by this week's flooding should be certain they will be covered in the future - but at what cost?

Your insurance company may continue to cover you but it might well involve bigger premiums and huge excess on your policy.

If you do not like the increase you may find you have no other choice as most insurance companies will not want the risk of house with a history of flood problems.

Some homeowners are investing in flood protection which can cost tens of thousands of pounds. But Money Box has learnt that in some cases insurance costs are not coming down. Is this fair or should homeowners just be grateful that their insurance company is sticking by them?

What are your experiences of getting insurance after flooding?

Did you spend fortunes on flood protection without it lowering your premiums?

Have you had good experiences of dealing with an insurance company after a flood?


YOUR COMMENTS

When my insurance premium increased significantly on renewal a couple of years ago, I was told that it was because of the floods in the west country, despite the fact that we live in an area that doesn't flood. All premiums were increasing to cover the payouts in those areas, I was told.

I queried if all areas were penalised because of the higher number of crime related claims in my area. Apparently not, we alone carry that burden, as well as the flood problems.

Even handed? I think not.
Chris, Bolton


We were flooded out last year in the Ottery St Mary floods and are still living in a caravan in our garden over a year later with no real set date to move back in. The insurance company and the loss adjusters that they employ have been unsympathetic and difficult to deal with.

Recently the policy came up for renewal, the premium had doubled, therefore I tried to shop around but I was told by lots of insurers that because of the ongoing nature of the claim they would not insure us, therefore I contacted the financial ombudsman.

They were more helpful but explained that no one would touch us until they know exactly when the claim is finished. Because that is still a long way off we are stuck with a company that we are not happy.
David, Ottery St Mary


I have a cottage in France right beside a river. It was very severely flooded in 1999 before I owned it. My (major international) insurer is fully aware that it is floodable and of the history but insurance was easy to arrange and there is no special excess.

This is because in France, when the mayor declares that a flood is a disaster, any insurance claim is met by a central fund and the individual insurance company pays nothing. The central fund is topped up by all companies, at the insistence of the government. No houses are uninsurable. Why don't we have this sensible arrangement in UK?
Peter, Plumpton Green


We were flooded in July 2007. Immediately after, our biggest problem was getting hold of the loss adjuster to get him to agree to the work. Although it was a long process the insurance did pay for all that was necessary.

However, we were out of our house and living in alternative accommodation for 10 months and the final cost of our claim was £285,000.

The result of this is that our insurance excess (for flooding) has increased from £50 for contents and £50 for buildings to £5,000 for contents and £20,000 for buildings.

I have written to them on several occasions and involved our local MP but they will not alter their view. I believe this excess is unreasonable and am concerned that this will affect more and more people.
Penny, Cirencester


We were flooded in July 2007 and had contents and buildings insurance. On the renewal date they made an exclusion that we were no longer covered for flood. Should they be allowed to do this?
Wendy and Matthew, Cheltenham


My nephew has just bought a house just within 250m of a river flood plain. However, the house is on a hill, well over 15m above the level of the river and huge swathes of Leeds would have to be flooded before the water comes anywhere near him. (The land on the other side of the river is flatter.) There is no way he will be flooded.

Nevertheless, insurance companies want huge additional premiums. What can be done?
Clare, Leeds


We were treated appallingly by our insurance company when we were flooded by raw sewage from a blocked sewage drain in June 2008.

Our insurer carried out a risk assessment of our house - and assessed it not safe for their employees to visit but they left us living there with two children and no kitchen.

The problem was exacerbated by the structure of the insurance industry. I stopped counting the number of subcontractors I had to deal with! I.e. the temporary accommodation finders, several different clean up companies who kept assessing the damage, their builders who did half a job, testing laboratory, customer service people, carpet fitters. This plethora of contractors made a bad situation far worse because they did not agree with each other.

Now the insurance company refuse to insure us - so no one else will either. We have installed a flood barrier and still we are not insured for flooding. Now we cant sell our house as a result. All this when Thames Water admitted liability for the blocked sewer that caused the problem in the first place.
Katharine, London


Simple answer. Don't buy property in a flood risk area!
Ian, Crewe


The basic function of insurance is to use a pool of money produced from premiums to compensate policyholders for losses incurred. So of course I as someone who will probably never incur flood damage should be funding those who do - that is the principle of insurance (a fact all too often forgotten by insurance companies). All the points you are making to the ABI etc are correct and Aviva should be appluaded with their attitude to the example you quoted in your programme.
Mark, Loughborough


At the beginning of this decade the Environment Agency spent £110 Million of taxpayers money on the Maidenhead and Windsor Flood Relief Channel (renamed the Jubilee River).This was designed to protect properties close to the River Thames between Maidenhead and Windsor. In the Thames floods of 2004 and 2007 it did its job perfectly. However, from this year, insurance companies are using the most recent EA flood maps which show flooding risks in areas as small as 50 meters squared.

My own insurance company has told me that in the next 4 or 5 years my premium will increase 4 or 5 fold. I am left wondering how taxpayers have benefitted from the expenditure of £110 Million of their money.

Brian, Maidenhead


"The insurance industry has a commitment to continue insurance for people even in areas of known flood risk." Except that when I tried to re-insure I was told by a number of insurers (5 as I recall) that they would not re-insure since I had been flooded 2 years previously despite a) the flood being relatively minor and b) I don't live in an area prone to floods. The problem seemed to be that insurers mostly plug numbers into the computer and the computer said no. No service really but it keeps costs down. The National Farmers Union on the other hand gave a competitive quote and provided a service.

Danny , Aldershot


Can anyone tell me why my premises are considered to be at risk by one company but not others when in fact no actual flooding of premises has occurred, although fairly close to a usually shallow brook. My post code covers a considerable area of both town and rural countryside.

Who/what decides which post code is at risk?

Andrea, Huntingdon


When buying a new property it is increasingly important to research the potential flood risk. A new service has just been launched by Land Registry wih provides a flood risk indicator for every registered property in England & Wales. http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/www/wps/portal/FloodRiskAbout

Vernon, Farnham


Having been flooded in 2006 when living in Camberley in Surrey, we received all the help we would have hoped for from our insurers but a flood penalty was added to our policy.

We subsequently sold our house and moved to West Byfleet about 15 miles away and when we asked our insurers to quote for cover on our new house we were told that the penalty would still apply even though the house we were buying had no history of flooding and is not in a flood plain. Furthermore, the penalty would apply for any claim involving water - even if the washing machine overflowed!

Caroline ,West Byfleet


If flood protection works do not fulfil their purpose surely it would be fair for the company installing them (and any professional advisors) to guarantee to meet their client's excess - funding such guarantee from insurance they have taken out themselves. The insurance company's stance in your illustration seems entirely reasonable to me. Why should everyone else's premiums fund the risk of such a trader's competence or adequacy?

Vicky, London




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