Flood Advice from the Association of Irish Insurers
Will my property be covered for flood damage?
Will both my Buildings and Contents be covered?
If you have not taken out buildings and/or contents insurance then you will have to pay for any flood damage to uninsured property. If you are a tenant and have taken out contents insurance you will be covered in respect of your contents and any fixtures and fittings which belong to you. Buildings insurance is normally the responsibility of the landlord.
Will I get any state assistance to help cover uninsured losses/damage?
My property has been flooded. What do I need to report to my insurer about my claim?
When claiming for flood damage on your insurance remember the do’s and don’ts below
Do commission immediate emergency pumping and repair work to protect your property from further damage.
Do get advice from your insurance company on reputable contractors and builders.
Do check with your insurer if you have to move into alternative accommodation, as this is often covered by your policy.
Do make sure your insurance company knows where to contact you if you have to move out of your home.
Do keep an inventory of all your correspondence with your insurance company.
Don’t begin any work without the approval of your insurance company.
I had to leave my house and I am living in alternative accommodation. How long will I be able to stay here?
In most incidences there will have to be “damage” to your home or its contents to trigger the alternative accommodation cover. The majority of companies would expect the policyholder to agree the alternative accommodation arrangements with the loss adjusters prior to committing themselves to alternative accommodation.
In all cases policyholder should be mindful of the length of time they will require alternative accommodation and the specific policy’s limits on providing cover in this type of incident (typically 20% of the sum insured).
In the unlikely event of the alternative accommodation portion of cover being used up, it will be your responsibility to make your own accommodation arrangements and to pay for them. Where you are out of your home for only a short period, ‘reasonable costs’ in respect of hotel accommodation are usually acceptable. Such costs will typically be reimbursed as soon as it is practical.
However, when you require long-term accommodation, the loss adjuster may locate a property, while some insurers may arrange to pay these bills directly. Alternative accommodation must be reasonable and in keeping with your normal lifestyle. Always obtain your insurer’s approval before incurring any costs.
Where there are two insurers – the building insurer and the contents insurer – the building insurer would be expected to take the initiative with regard to arranging alternative accommodation. If you prefer to be near your property when the floodwaters have gone some insurers, depending on the circumstances, may arrange for a mobile home to be placed in your garden.
How long will it be before I am back in my property?
Once the flood waters have receded you should remove mud, clean and disinfect and dry out your property. Where possible, advice should be sought as to how walls, furniture and carpets should be cleaned before any work is undertaken. Seek professional advice on how long drying out a property will take.
Insurers have experience of the time it takes to dry out property in a correct way. You will not be able to redecorate before the property has thoroughly dried out. Depending on the degree of damage it could be between a few weeks and several months before a property is habitable.
How long do I need to keep the goods that have been damaged?
Perishables: Do not eat any food that has been exposed to flooding. Throw it away and keep a note of the items disposed of. If you have any recent receipts for food that was purchased for the freezer retain them as part of your claim. Fridges and freezers should be cleared out as soon as possible.
Material goods: It is a good idea to take photographs of the damage. Any carpets, furniture or other goods that have been removed from your home should be retained until your insurer has agreed that they can be disposed of. If it is not possible to store or retain damaged goods keep a sample or a photograph to support your claim.
Every effort should be made to contact your insurer or their representative (loss adjuster) to obtain their agreement to the disposal of goods. It’s also very helpful to rescue and dry out any instruction manuals and guarantees showing the make and model number of electrical equipment or recipts for other items.
Can I use my own builder?
You can use your own builder if you want to. However, you might find it beneficial to use a builder recommended by your insurer from their “approved list”. As the standard of work from an approved builder will have been monitored, it will be acceptable to your insurer. Also, by using an approved builder if any problems do arise it will be easier for you to deal with these with the help of your insurer.
If you decide that you would like to choose your own builder to undertake your repair work your insurer will probably ask you to get two or three estimates from different builders so they have a proper understanding of the work that will be needed and the likely costs. You will need your insurer’s confirmation that they have agreed an estimate before any work starts.
You will also need to refer any problems with the repair work or involving increases in costs to your insurer and get their agreement before any additional work goes ahead. Any complaints arising from work undertaken by a builder of your own choice, which is not sanctioned by your insurer, will ultimately be for you to resolve.
Flooding has damaged my garden. Can I make a claim?
Will I have to pay an excess (i.e. the first part of any claim)?
Why has a loss adjuster been appointed?
Insurance company: Every insurer has a complaints procedure which you will find with your policy documents. As a first step telephone or write to your insurer keeping a note of what you have said. If the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction you can contact the Financial Ombudsman who will investigate the complaint within their terms of reference. Any Ombudsman decisions are binding on the insurer but not on the policyholder. Ultimate redress for the policyholder is to choose to take action through the courts.
Loss Adjuster: As a first step speak to your insurer. You can also try to resolve the matter with the loss adjuster handling your claim or with a senior member of the firm overseeing your claim. If this is not possible then you should contact the head office of the firm which employs him or her. In this respect you should contact the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters at the address below.
All loss adjusters will have formal complaint procedures. If you are still unable to resolve the matter you should contact your insurance company. They will handle complaints against loss adjusters according to their (the loss adjusters) written complaints procedure.
Useful contact numbers
You should contact:
Emergency number – 999 or 112
Health Services – 1800 520 520
Water – 1890 202 021 / 1890 200 191
Electricity – 1850 372 999
Gas – 1850 20 50 50
Telephone – Eircom : 1901
EsatBT : 1800 924 924
Local Authority – Local Authorities
Building Control Officers – Building Control Officers
Structural Engineer / surveyor – Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland – 642 5588
Department of Social Community & Family Affairs – 1890 50 00 00
Department of the Environment – 1890 20 20 21
Office of Public Works – Email: email@example.com
Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Goverment – Local Authorities – to check your own Local Authority Local Authorities
Building Control Officers – in each Local Authority can provide advice and guidance on ensuring that any works planned to be carried out will comply with the building regulations – Technical Guidance Documents A-M Building Control Officers Local Authorities may provide advice on drains and drainage in your area, and whether roads are flooded etc.
Met Eireann – www.met.ie
National Flood Hazard Mapping – www.floodmaps.ie
Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI) – For advice on structural surveys. For a directory of ACEI structural Engineers see website www.acei.ie
Citizens Information – (information on social and public services): www.citizensinformation.ie, 0761 07 4000
I have a complaint about the builder appointed by my insurer to undertake my repair work?
How long will it be before I get my claim settled?
Domestic: Much will depend on the extent of the damage to the property. If it is a relatively simple claim and the loss adjuster/company representative has reached a final settlement figure a cheque should be with you normally within 10 working days of agreement being reached. In respect of larger, more involved claims, interim payments may be made. In some circumstances direct settlement may be made with, for example, the proprietor of temporary accommodation providers.
Commercial: Commercial claims may require more specialist investigation which will take a longer period of time. There may also be complications due to consequential losses that require more complex assessment. In dealing with any claim large or small the insurer will be looking to settle the claim as soon as possible as this is in the interests of all parties.
I know I am underinsured, how will my insurer deal with my claim?
The onus is always with you to make sure that your sum insured is correct. Insurers have traditionally supplied household rebuilding and consumer durable index linking information to help policyholders keep their sums insured up-to-date. Any approach you make to your insurer regarding your claim where there is an element of under-insurance will be considered on its merits. It is unlikely there will be an across the board approach by insurers to such claims.
Some may choose to take a sympathetic view where the policyholder has been with them for some considerable time and where they can demonstrate that they have made efforts to keep their sum insured up-to-date. Where it is clear that there has been “deliberate” under-insurance and a policyholder has made no attempt to increase their sum insured, despite accumulating high value goods or adding extensions etc, then it is probable that an insurer will look to settle any claim under the “strict” policy terms and conditions which may mean that you have to meet part of the claim yourself.