The insurer aims to help customers that are victims of repeated flooding by setting out a formal process for loss adjusters to follow

Insurer Zurich UK has committed to help homeowners and businesses better protect their properties from repeated flooding and extreme weather.

Coined the Flood Resilience Toolkit, Zurich has set out a formal process for loss adjusters to follow, to ensure resilience is considered as part of every flood claim.

Via this toolkit, the insurer will inform flood-hit customers of simple changes they can make to reduce their vulnerability to future flooding, as well as signpost customers to specialist advice on flood resilience, available grants and other resources.

This is in addition to the flood prevention advice Zurich already offers to customers.

Paul Redington, Zurich’s regional major loss property claims manager, said: “We need to batten down the hatches and prepare for a future where extreme weather fuelled by climate change is commonplace.”

Breaking the cycle

Currently when a flood occurs, most insurers look to reinstate properties on a like-for-like basis. This can potentially leave homes and commercial properties vulnerable to future flooding.

Zurich, however, wants to use the property repair process to help customers improve their flood resilience.

This approach aims to reduce the disruption faced by households and businesses, as well as the cost of repeat flooding.

Property flood resilience measures suggested by Zurich includes cost neutral changes, such as moving electric plug sockets higher up walls.

Homeowners and businesses may also look to invest in installing air brick covers, sump pumps and flood doors or barriers.

Redington continued: “Although we can’t prevent flooding, we can ensure properties are better protected. We’ve transformed the way we handle claims to help flood-hit customers build back better.

”This will mean every claim is a potential opportunity to make homes and [businesses] more resilient and reduce the misery and disruption of being flooded time and again.”

Ian Gibbs, national technical manager at Sedgwick, added: “We have an excellent track record of supporting customers after a flood by providing them with flood resilient advice and repairs. But so much more needs to be done to make homes more flood resilient, with work happening throughout the year, not just after a significant flood event.

“It’s great to be working with Zurich, [which is] taking this approach to property resilience and making it their default position. [Its] Flood Resilience Toolkit will help the wider loss adjusting community to have the conversation about resilient repairs with customers and encourage wider take up of this important aspect of flood mitigation.”

Reducing the carbon footprint

Zurich’s new way of handling flood claims also aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the repair process, such as the energy expended in drying materials.

In communities where flood risk and poverty levels are high, Zurich is calling for the government to make flood resilience grants available upfront.

The grants – which offer homeowners £5,000 to help defend their properties from future flood damage – are currently only available after a serious, widespread flooding event.

The insurer recommended that ministers should make grants available throughout the year, to help people in the poorest parts of the country proactively protect their properties and businesses.

Redington continued: “The government needs to look at what it can do ahead of floods to encourage the uptake of flood resilience.

“With climate change bringing more frequent and severe weather, ministers need to consider a permanent grant scheme to incentivise flood resilience.”

Earlier this year, Zurich announced it would provide free counselling to policyholders and their families who were victims of flooding.

Under this initiative, customers who are forced to make a claim can access five counselling sessions with a qualified mental health expert. This benefit also extends to immediate family members over the age of 18.