Preparing for Storm Ciaran: Advice for Homeowners and Insurers on Managing Flood Risk

1 November 2023

With weather experts warning us about the impending arrival of Storm Ciaran, homeowners who have already experienced flooding or are at high risk should take immediate steps to safeguard their property and well-being. Preparation is key to managing flood risk and the insurance industry can help customers by informing and advising them ahead of time. Here are some top tips to help prepare and minimise flood damage:

Before the Storm

  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the latest weather updates and flood warnings from reliable sources like WeatherNet whose rich data with unparalleled accuracy is perfect for insurers and other businesses. For homeowners, other sources like the Met Office or the Environment Agency – knowledge is your first line of defence.
  • Home Safeguards: Consider installing flood barriers or sandbags around doors and low windows. Move valuable items and electricals to higher ground, and unplug all appliances.
  • Check and Clear Drains: Blocked drains can exacerbate flooding issues and this time of year the falling leaves can create additional issues. Ensure that drains and gutters are free from debris to allow for efficient water flow. Dedicated underground services specialists can help with more complex problems that may arise.
  • Create an Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit containing essential items such as bottled water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, torches, batteries, important documents, and spare clothing. Ensure that this kit is easily accessible.
  • Plan an Evacuation Route: Map out a safe evacuation route and share it with all household members. If you have pets, consider their needs as well.
  • Communicate with Neighbours: Share information and plans with neighbours, especially those who may need extra assistance such as the elderly or disabled.
  • Consult Your Insurance Provider: Your insurance company can offer invaluable advice on how to protect your property effectively. Some companies offer flood risk assessments and can recommend tailored protective measures like installing sump pumps or backflow valves.

During the Storm

  • Listen to Authorities: Follow all advice and evacuation orders from local authorities. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Avoid Floodwaters: Do not attempt to walk or drive through floodwaters. Just 30 cm of fast-flowing water can move a car.
  • Stay Updated: Keep updated with the latest weather forecasts and flood warnings.

After the Storm

  • Inspect for Damage: Once it’s safe, inspect your home for damage. Take photographs for insurance purposes.
  • Check Utilities: If you smell gas or suspect damage to your electrical system, contact professionals before turning anything on.
  • Clean Up Safely: Use protective clothing and be cautious of any structural damage when cleaning up. Be wary of contaminated floodwater.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: If you have noticed damage then contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to start the claims process. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

The Role of the Insurance Industry in Risk Mitigation

Insurance companies can significantly contribute to disaster preparedness by offering

  • Risk Assessments: Providing free or discounted flood risk assessments can help homeowners understand their vulnerabilities and take preventive measures.
  • Information Sharing: Distributing guides or checklists on how to prepare for flooding and protect property can arm policyholders with the necessary knowledge.
  • Tailored Coverage: Offering specialised flood insurance products that suit the individual needs of homeowners in high-risk areas can be a lifeline when disaster strikes.
  • Rapid Response Teams: Some insurance providers deploy emergency teams to assist in evacuation and immediate relief efforts, adding an extra layer of support.
  • Community Partnerships: Collaborating with local authorities and organisations can strengthen community resilience and preparedness.

Find out more about what the insurance industry is doing to manage flood risk through Flood Re

Storm Ciaran may be on the way but by taking these precautions and utilising the support offered by the insurance industry, you’ll be better equipped to protect your home and loved ones. Stay safe, and remember: preparation is key.