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Ivor the Dragon and Flood Compensation

I live up in the mountains in a nice cave. Not a nasty, dirty, wet cave, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it’s a dragon-hole, and that means comfort. Or it did until these floods came.

Recently it’s been raining quite a lot and some water has entered my lovely home so much that everything I own – which is not much, but still – has become all wet. Since I can blow fire I managed to heat everything and to melt the rock so that the holes in my roof are now history. As a personal injury lawyer I am concerned when people are in trouble and I like to keep informed and to help to the best of my capacities.

There is not much from a legal point of view I can do in such situations, but I decided to do some research: is it possible to claim compensation for flooding? I thought that if I had problems because of the rain maybe I wasn’t the only one. I am sad to say that I was right, rain has made a great number of victims lately.

Flooded Lake House, Keswick, Cumbria, UK

My misadventure seems to be nothing compared to what I’ve seen in the human world. It was not just a few drops or even a few litres of water that has entered some people’s homes, it was a proper flood and gallons of water. Well, I say water… most of the time the water came from flooding rivers and crossed enough land to become something muddy and far worse than plain water for someone’s home and belongings. And sometimes it’s the sewers that ended up invading homes… This muddy and/or filthy water seems to turn everything it touches into mould and although it doesn’t destroy furniture it makes them unfit for use. Let’s not even talk about clothes and such.

When your house is flooded you lose most not to say all of your furniture, and the mud also attacks walls, carpets and everything it touches. You lose everything, and your home becomes an unwelcoming smelly house. Some people even lost their lives which is sadder than words can tell. Having all your possessions taken away from you by nature cannot compare to that, but still you feel like a survivor when you’ve suffered from a natural catastrophe and it is really hard to get back on your feet after such a tragedy.

I have been impressed by the reaction of humans ready to risk their lives to save others’, and the help often brought to victims by their peers. But sometimes, only money can make things really better. Charity and goodwill don’t buy new furniture.

Insurance claims

In these situations having an insurance against flooding is a first step towards getting your life back. Obviously we’re talking about insurance so unless you have a great premium insurance you are unlikely to get enough money back to buy all your furniture anew, but that’s a start. Unfortunately for people who live in areas that are often flooded, insurances tend to increase their fees if you ask for their help too much. It is one of the problems faced by the inhabitants of Goole in East Yorkshire for instance.

When and how can you ask for compensation?

As always in compensation cases, in order to get a compensation you need to find out who is guilty and therefore who will pay for the damage you suffered from. If the damage came from sewer flooding, the water company can be held responsible. The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) is there to make sure everyone is provided with good quality service and value for money, so if your water company failed in their mission, thanks to the Guaranteed Standard Scheme you are entitled to a refund of your sewerage charges from a minimum of £150 to a maximum of £1,000 in case of internal flooding. In case of external flooding – in your garden for instance – you are entitled to a 50% refund of your sewerage charges up to £500. You have 3 months to ask the water company for a refund, and they have 20 days to pay you or they face penalty payments. If you suffered from both internal and external flooding you are only entitled to one compensation so to a maximum of £1,000.d

However, if flooding is caused by exceptional water conditions – “force majeure”, the refund is not automatic. Yet if the water company is suspected not to have done everything in their power to prevent flooding, like in Brentford or in Weston-super-Mare, you may have grounds for compensation, if failure to provide service is proven by a third party.

If you don’t know which water company provides your water you can find it out on the Consumer Council for Water website.

If you are a flood victim we advise you to contact your insurance company quickly to make a claim so you can get refunded as soon as possible. You can also contact your water company if you suspect they failed in providing the best service they could against sewer flooding.