Head above water: Recovering from flood damage.
Flooding affects thousands of Australian home and business owners every year. But some rebound much faster than others once the danger has passed and waters have receded.
Rising floodwaters and inundated communities provide exactly the type of human drama the media loves. But what receives far less attention, and is often overlooked entirely, is just how difficult it can be for local home owners and businesses to recover long after the cameras have stopped rolling.
Clearly getting back to normal as quickly as possible is the ideal scenario. Yet for many reasons it’s rarely a simple process. For starters, when authorities give you the all clear to return you may be shocked to discover the level of damage to your home or business. Beyond this, the essential services you reply upon may be limited (or in the worst cases non existent), including power, water, sewage and gas. There could be considerable infrastructure damage affecting everything from the road and public transport systems in your area to telecommunication services and even the ATM network. fuel, groceries and medications may also be in short supply. There’s a lot you’ll need to consider, so here are some important things to keep in mind…
Returning to your home or business
- Only return when local authorities say it’s safe
- If your property is damaged, stay out until a building inspector or engineer has given you the all clear
- Always use a torch when re-entering a building – there may be gas leaks so never use matches, cigarette lighters or naked flames
- Watch out for snakes, spiders and other animals that have been displaced by the flood waters, they may be highly defensive
- Withdraw cash before your return as local ATMs and banks may be damaged or closed
- Fill up your fuel tank
- Charge your phone and use it sparingly until you know you’ll be able to recharge it
- If the flooding has affected your business, keep your employees well informed and encourage them to also act safely when returning. An effective communications plan for emergency situations can be very helpful here, so if you don’t currently have one for your business it’s worth setting up.
Cleaning up/moving back in
- Before you start the clean up work make sure your gas and electricity mains are turned off
- Get an electrician to check your electrical appliances before using them again
- Ensure the sewerage and drainage lines to your property are safe and functioning before reconnecting dishwashers and washing machines
- Throw away all food or medication that may be contaminated through contact with floodwater and/or lack of refrigeration
- Wear rubber soled shoes and rubber or leather gloves
- Use disinfectant to wash all surfaces that have been inundated to help reduce the danger of flood related infections
- It could take many weeks to completely dry out your property and possessions, so anything that is wet and able to be moved should be taken outside to dry.
After a major flood event, a smooth claim process holds the key to your swift return to normality. It’s important to contact your insurer or insurance adviser as soon as possible, both to request an assessment and also to seek any specific advice relating to your policy. It is essential to do this before you begin to discard damaged items, authorise repairs or clean any damaged or flood affected property. It’s also an excellent idea to take detailed photographs and videos and make a full inventory of your property and contents to assist with the claims process, documenting all losses.
If the claim is related to your business, additional information insurers often require for flooding claims include:
- Fixed asset register and depreciation records
- Your most recent physical inventory
- Payroll records for employees used in the clean up (ideally using a unique accounting code for the flood recovery efforts), including the specific hours worked, tasks performed and pay/overtime rates
- Purchase orders or estimates of all contracts for repair or replacement of damaged assets
- Profit and loss statements for two years prior to the flooding event for all affected locations
- Budgets and forecasts prepared before the loss to demonstrate the size of the anticipated loss.
Recovering from a flood is all about putting safety first. But after that the more organised you stay, the better the final outcome is likely to be. When it comes to managing your insurance claim(s), don’t go it alone. Your local Insurance Advisernet authorised representative is an expert who can offer invaluable assistance and expertise at a time when you need it most – so be sure to get in touch.
Lewis Insurance Services is here to advise our clients on the options available for Flood Insurance under home, motor and business policies and assist our clients where possible in the unfortunate event of suffering from flood, including putting clients in touch with emergency repairers. To discuss further, please contact Lewis Insurance Services on 07 3217 9015 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article was published by our AFSL Licensee, Insurance Advisernet Australia P/L (15/11/2016)
This information and any accompanying material does not consider your personal circumstances as it is of a general nature only. You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances and considering the Product Disclosure Statement.