The Investigation and Repair of Flood damaged Domestic Properties. A Guide for the Insurance Industry. The Flood Repairs Forum

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1 The Investigation and Repair of Flood damaged Domestic Properties A Guide for the Insurance Industry The Flood Repairs Forum 1

2 Flood Repairs Manual- Index 1) Introduction 2) The Flood Repairs Forum 3) Damage Reporting 4) Customer Contact i) Customer Contact Checklist - The 6 Stage Approach 5) Technical Competence i) Complex Buildings 6) Minimum Drying Standards i) Secondary Damage 7) Drying Methodology i) Drying programmes ii) Key factors in the drying process iii) The importance of monitoring iv) High Temperatures v) Vulnerable materials vi) Common problems 8) Equipment i) Types of dehumifier ii) Dehumidification using refrigeration iii) Dehumidification using desiccation 9) Monitoring i) Monitoring equipment ii) Frequently asked questions iii) Certificate of drying works iv) Completion Report 10) Flood Repair Standards 11) Health & Safety Issues i) Introduction ii) Recommendations for Flood iii) Risk Assessment User Guide key iv) Example of Health & Safety Plan 12) Insurance Policy Cover issues i) Introduction 2

3 ii) The Insurance Contract iii) The Policy Excess iv) Policy Conditions and exclusions v) Prompt Notifications vi) Non-Disclosure vii) Sum Insured viii) Under insurance ix) Maintenance and Repair x) Betterment 13) Extract from Insurers Risk Information regarding Flooding i) Floodwater generally ii) Susceptibility of contents and equipment iii) Susceptibility of buildings and fittings iv) Risk management v) Flood protection mitigation products 14) Identifying, establishing and managing the flooding risk at a Property i) Flood event procedures ii) Flood defending equipment and suppliers iii) Action to be taken before and during a Flooding Event 15) Monitoring Reading Records 16) Useful websites 3

4 1.0 Introduction Flood is an issue that is likely to affect both homeowners and the insurance industry for the foreseeable future. It causes distress to homeowners and occupants, and the technical difficulties associated with the repair process can test experts to the limit. The background of this document arises in the recognition that complementary parties and organisations working together can offer and ultimately provide solutions in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is with this in mind that a group of like minded professionals started to work together to create a manual of best practice, aimed specifically although not exclusively at the insurance industry, and professionals within that industry. It is not entirely intended as being a stand alone document indeed there is already a good deal of data and information available but hopefully will provide a useful reference document if used in isolation. The flow of the contents of the document take the reader through the sequence of events in a flood claim from inspection, through the drying process, to the recommendation of flood resistant repairs. In addition it assists those who are perhaps less experienced in flood repairs to understand some of the basic insurance issues involved, and some elemental requirements of customer care recognising that communication and management of expectation rests at the heart of many of the difficulties which can occur. For the avoidance of doubt, in the context of this document we are concerned with large bodies of water not the effects of small or isolated incidents such as in the case of a burst water tank. It is however entirely feasible that some of the same considerations would apply. This is a complex area, both in terms of insurance and building repair issues. We hope that this document simplifies and codifies some of the issues involved. 4

5 2.0 The Flood Repairs Forum The Flood Repairs Forum comprises insurers, repairers, expert investigators and loss adjusters, all of whom have relevant and expert understanding of the issues involved. These organisations and individuals are as listed below, in no particular order. Norwich Union John Wickham (Chairman) Royal & Sun Alliance (Diana Blaskett) Lloyds TSB (Ian Jones) Munters (Alistair Phillips & David Clifton) Capita Insurance Services (Tony Boobier) Cunningham Lindsey (Richard Ayton-Robinson) Crawfords (Nick Clark) British Damage Management Association (Neal Courteney) Richfords Fire & Floods (Stephen Richford) Wolverhampton University (Dr David Proverbs & Victor Samwinga) It goes without saying that opinions expressed by individuals and organisations are made in good faith, and that no liability or responsibility attaches to either individuals or organisations in respect of any of the advice contained within this document. 5

6 3.0 Damage Reporting The first key element is the correct and consistent reporting of the scale of the problem. This section provides a recommended template for a standard flood damage condition report. The report is not meant to replace current insurer reporting requirements but should exist as a stand alone document. It provides a comprehensive summary of the findings of the professional at the time of first visit BUILDING CONDITION REPORT IN RESPECT OF FLOOD DAMAGE DATE OF EVENT Name: Claim Ref: Address: Project Ref: Weather Conditions at time of inspection: Surveyor: Date of inspection: Roof Coverings. Type: Condition/Defect: 6

7 Chimney stacks and flashings Type: Condition/Defect Surface water drainage Type: Condition/Defect: Foul Drainage Type: Condition/Defect: Main walls Type: Condition/Defect: 7

8 Cellar or basement Type: Condition/Defect: Floors Ground Type:. Condition/Defect: Type: First Condition/Defect: Internal Partitions Type:. Condition/Defect: Fireplaces and Chimney breasts Type: Condition/Defect: 8

9 Ceilings Type: Condition/Defect: Internal decoration Type: Condition/Defect: Joinery Type: Condition/Defect: 9

10 Services Plumbing and sanitary fittings Type: Condition/Defect: Electrics Type: Condition/Defects Gas supply Type Condition/Defect: List of fixtures and fittings Recommendations Comments relating to maintenance defects not related to flood damage Surveyor: Disclaimer Wording Date 10

11 4.0 Customer Contact This section considers the issues involved in the communications between the professional team and the homeowner or occupant. Communication is an essential part of the process. Good communication manages expectation throughout the life of the incident, regardless of the uncertainties which inevitably arise in damage of this nature. One key issue is that of health and safety. In most cases, flood water is dirty by its very nature. The homeowner needs to be reassured that by adopting a correct approach to drying and repairs, damage to health and safety will be reduced or hopefully removed in its entirety. Once drying is complete, repairs can commence but historically there have always been issues as to when a property is suitably dry. This section seeks to identify when that stage is reached. It is noted that there is no need for a building to be absolutely bone dry to allow the permanent works to start. Equally, the customer should recognise that due to this uncertainty, residual issues can emerge. These latent problems should not be taken as any sign of negligence on the part of the professional team, all of whom will usually act in good faith. They normally will seek to identify a balance between adequate dryness and the degree of inconvenience of permanent repairs being further delayed. This is not a precise science, and will differ from property to property. Only where there has been gross disregard for the most basic of criteria should professional judgement be called into question. i ) Customer Contact Document the 6 Stage Approach Communication with the Customer through the life of a major flood claim is an essential part of the story, and is delivered through 6 key stages as described below. Stage 1 incoming claim from policy holder The first key stage is the timely and accurate collection of information. 11

12 Information that is essential: Name Address (damaged property) Telephone numbers Preferred method of communication (as many as possible including contact numbers at temporary accommodation) phone, sms text messaging or . Insurance Policy Details Date of incident Is the property being lived in? Special circumstances Is there still standing water in the property and if so how deep is it? Is there any power in the property If the electrics have been affected has an electrician been called. What type of property is it? What rooms have been affected? What has been affected in the rooms Temporary address should be taken if available Elderly occupants, young children, sick, disabled, language difficulties If the water if more than 6 deep it will need pumping out by the fire brigade or wait until it subsides. Ascertain who will appoint an electrician - ph, insurance co, loss adjuster or damage management company. House, flat, bungalow, detatched, semi detatched, terrace. Insurance Cover Information Policy Number Claim Reference number Type of cover Excess on policy i.e. buildings, contents or both How much is it and who is expected to collect it. 12

13 Information and Advice for the policy holder to be given by the insurance company or assistance company Advise PH which third parties are being appointed to assist them with the claim. Give name of company, a contact (where possible) and telephone number. Provide the policy holder with a telephone number for the insurance company if they have a query regarding their claim. Give a brief explanation of the role of the damage management company (DMC) Check the claim is valid under the policy Liaise with the loss adjuster/insurance company at all times Assess the damage caused by the flood and what work needs to be done Arrange for a skip to be provided for unsalvageable goods if necessary Clear contents and make an inventory of goods that are unsalvageable. The inventory will need to be approved by the insurance co/loss adjuster prior to disposal of any contents. Sanitise all affected areas Assess whether any plaster needs removing from walls or flooring needs removing Install drying equipment (dehumidifiers and fans) Agree to monitor the progress of the drying Provide regular reports on action taken, work to be done and estimated time for completion of drying to the insurance company/loss adjuster Promise to issue a guarantee of dryness on completion of their work Advice to the Policy Holder on what they can do to help Remove affected carpets if able to do so but do not dispose of. Open windows if weather is fine outside Do not use electric sockets if affected by water Do not turn on electrical appliances that have been affected by water If standing water is deep but outside water levels have subsided try to get the fire brigade to pump it out. Remove any undamaged items upstairs away from the water 13

14 Stage 2 Communicating to the policy holder by a third party assigned to the claim i.e loss adjuster, damage management organisation. Introduce yourself to the policy holder and remind them of your role in their claim. Where possible give them a named contact who will be dealing with their claim. Tell them who has appointed you to their claim, ie who you are working for. Give them a reference number they can use when contacting you. Give them a telephone number to use when contacting you. Ask them to confirm their preferred telephone contact number. Check the details you have for them i.e. address details in case they are in temporary accommodation. Check the postal address that should be used for them. If you are unable to make contact with the policy holder within 24 hours of receiving the claim a contact card should be posted to them. Stage 3 The initial visit to the policy holder (loss adjuster, damage management company) Validate the claim is the incident covered under the terms of the insurance policy? Check for any indications of fraud. Re-assure the policy holder that things will get better and be sympathetic to their problems. Explain the process that will be carried out in handling their claim. Explain the reason behind the processes undertaken, such as removing wallpaper, plaster, flooring. Give and indication of how long the process is likely to take (set customer expectations from the outset). Answer any questions clearly, without the use of jargon. Leave an information leaflet with contact numbers clearly shown. Provide the policy holder with a plastic wallet or file that can be used to keep all the documentation relating to the claim together. This could be pre-filled with information provided by all parties involved in the process and also provide a page of contact numbers for quick reference. Stage 4 Keeping the policy holder updated (loss adjuster, builder, damage management organisation) 14

15 Maintain regular contact with the policy holder. This should be done on a weekly basis. If not visiting, by telephone, to confirm progress and update estimated completion date. Stage 5 Completion of work by contractors Each contractor involved should communicate to the policy holder that their work on the claim has now been completed. This can be done by phone but should be reinforced in writing. Agreement should be sought by the contractor that the policy holder is satisfied with the work undertaken and there are no outstanding issues relating to the work they have undertaken. This approval should be gained in writing. Completion of claim by insurance company A final call should be made to the policy holder to confirm that the claim has now been completed. The policy holder should be asked if there are any outstanding problems or issues that need to be resolved and they are happy with the outcome of the claim. Stage 6 Feedback A customer satisfaction survey should be sent to each policy holder. The survey should relate to all parties involved with the claim i.e. Insurance company Assistance company Loss adjuster Contractors; damage management, builders, specialist restorers, carpet suppliers, replacement goods suppliers etc. The survey should cover all aspects of the claim against each service provider i.e. Communication, verbal and written, quality of work undertaken, quality of service provided, overall impression, impact on their view of the insurer. 15

16 5.0 Technical Competence within the team For reinstatement projects following flooding involving building types of complex classification it is recommended that within the team there is a Technically Competent Person who will act for all interested parties in an impartial technical capacity to promote the satisfactory and appropriate repair of the damage to the building to restore it to its pre-incident state. A Technically Competent Person will possess a detailed knowledge of design and construction methods, techniques and detailing appropriate to the subject property and experience of the effects of water on building structures and components, together with an understanding of contemporary methods of drying flooded buildings and reinstatement methods. A technically competent person will usually be a qualified and experienced building surveyor, often although not always a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. RICS. However there may be other experts with suitable qualifications such as expert loss adjusters or building engineers. To discharge these responsibilities in certain situations specialist advice and guidance may need to be sought from outside the team. The responsibilities of the Technically Competent Person to the team and building owner The following duties are expected :- Completion of risk assessments Initial inspection, review and record of pre-incident condition of building, and damage caused by flood Specify and scope initial strip out and mitigation Evaluation of drying requirements and appropriate methods Record of moisture readings ( plot and plan survey ) Management of drying monitoring and issue of certificate of dryness Specify and scope repairs Compile budget repair costs Administer Statutory Approvals CDM procedures Manage Party Wall Issues 16

17 Inspect quality of repair works for compliance with specification Certify satisfactory completion of repairs and that building is restored to preincident condition Complete Building User Manual or event summary for Sellers Pack i) Complex Building Types Complex building types requiring the involvement of a Technically Competent Person are defined as follows:- Historic and Listed Buildings Buildings within a Conservation Area Timber framed buildings Buildings with concealed insulation Buildings of non-standard construction Buildings with basements of cellars Buildings with structural problems Buildings with complex M&E installations Buildings which have been previously flooded Buildings adapted for the disabled Buildings where the method of construction is uncertain 17

18 6.0 Minimum Drying Standards When can a building that has been affected by water damage be considered dry? The underlying principal that guided the development of these standards were that the moisture levels found existing in the property after the damage should be reduced and, returned as a minimum to the normal pre-existing conditions of that property. The existing building materials and general structure within a property (floors, walls ceilings, doors, etc.) must be returned to their pre-loss moisture condition. These criteria must be achieved for the property to be considered dry, to understand when drying equipment and services are no longer required. These would be considered sufficient when the three following conditions have been achieved: - The internal conditions of the property are at, or better that normal room conditions. The moisture on and in the building materials themselves will not support active growth of mould and mildew as a result of the incident of water damage that has most recently occurred. The building materials and contents will finish returning to equilibrium with normal room conditions by themselves without further damage to them. i) Secondary damage A normal well-maintained building has a low level of moisture held in the building structure, too low to support growth of micro-organisms. Moulds do not grow in these conditions, where the moisture levels are in equilibrium throughout the property, and safely balanced. After a flood incident this balance is disturbed. When water soaks into building and contents materials they then become wet enough to support mould growth and drying is essential. Additionally, as water evaporates from these wet materials it can travel through the air and be absorbed by other materials remote from the area initially affected. This damage from mould growth is secondary damage and avoidable by prompt action. Where secondary damage inevitably occurs and there has been no fault on the part of anyone involved, usually insurers will deal with this damage as part of the original claim. 18

19 7.0 Drying Methodology i) Establishing a drying program A drying program needs to be controlled and monitored to ensure an optimum rate of evaporation from wet materials. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when establishing a drying program: Can the building be sealed? Is the building s heating and/or air conditioning system available? What is the condition of property s electrical system? What are types of material are being dried? How long were the materials under water? What was the depth of water saturation? What type of equipment will be used for the drying process? What are the outside weather conditions? What is the attitude and level of cooperation of the insured and building occupants How quickly can the insurer, their representative or the property manager make a decision regarding the property (for example, are there issues of insurance policy cover which need to be resolved?) What is the overall condition of the fabric of the property? Is the property at risk of re-flooding? Is there any trapped interstitial moisture moisture trapped in insulated floors, walls etc. As a result of considering these factors there are a number of ways that a property can be dried. There are some general rules of thumb that can be used. ii) Key factors in the drying process Air movement. Air Temperature. Air moisture content. Whatever type of dehumidification is used, it must be combined with a suitable number of air movers, and a suitable temperature. All these aspects are important in 19

20 the evaporation process, adjusted during the process by a trained and skilled drying technician. There are different ways of deciding which type of equipment to use, and how many. With dehumidification a start can be made by identifying the moisture load within the property, followed by making calculations to decide exactly the type and number of dehumidifiers that need to be used, based on the different model s moisture removal rate. Another method of calculation is based more loosely on degree of damage for example A typical property that has had a very light damage needs a certain amount of air changes In order to dry it one air change per hour might be sufficient for this up to perhaps eight to ten air changes in extreme situations. iii) The importance of monitoring The relationship between moisture removal and pure air movement should always be checked and adjusted as necessary. A critical factor is to ensure that the optimum evaporation rate from the material this should always be checked during the drying process. Monitoring the drying process will ensure that the equipment that has been installed gives the best drying conditions. On these monitoring visits equipment will need to me adjusted, increased, or reduced to ensure that these are maintained. In most circumstances the ideal drying conditions should be approximately 40% to 50% relative humidity with temperatures between 18 c to 23 c iv) High temperatures Higher temperatures can be used in certain circumstances in order to dry the property however this must be combined with a lower vapour pressure the reason for this is the fact that optimum evaporation can only be achieved if there is a significant vapour pressure differential between the wet materials and the atmosphere. v) Vulnerable materials The ideal conditions for drying will vary and are also dependant on the presence of materials that could warp or shrink if they are dried too quickly. 20

21 vi) Common problems The most important aspect to look at is the possibility of trapped moisture within the structure this can be done when drying has commenced. The most likely areas for trapped moisture are within insulated floors and cavities in walls. It can in fact be any location where evaporation of excess moisture is restricted or cannot take place because of the permeability of the materials surrounding the affected area. Surface coatings can inhibit the release of moisture and slow the drying process. 21

22 8.0 Equipment i) Types of Dehumidifiers There are essentially two ways of accomplishing dehumidification of atmospheric air By chilling air below its dew point causing moisture to condense on cool surfaces. By passing air over substances that have an affinity for moisture. These substances are called desiccants and are capable of extracting moisture directly from the atmosphere. ii) Dehumidification using refrigeration Using refrigeration to remove moisture from the atmosphere is a common method for dehumidifying air. Air at its initial temperature and moisture content is chilled by refrigeration when the air has been cooled sufficiently to bring its condition to saturation. Further cooling causes moisture to condense. In a typical refrigeration unit this condensation occurs directly on to a finned cooling tube and is collected and drained away. At its final dehumidified condition the air is considerably cooler and contains less moisture but it is still nearly saturated with a relative humidity of close to 100%. This air is then re heated as it passes through the dehumidifier which in turn reduces the relative humidity. Drying by using mechanical refrigeration can be quite efficient depending on the prevailing temperature and relative humidity. The actual cooling effect or energy extracted can be several times greater than the energy input required to operate the system this ratio is called coefficient of performance. The best operating range of a refrigeration dehumidifier is between 15 c and 28 c and between 60% to 98% relative humidity. iii) Dehumidification using Desiccants Desiccants are substances characteristically having a high affinity for water so high in fact that they can draw moisture from the surrounding air. The desiccant dehumidifier uses a drying wheel which is impregnated with an adsorbent substance such as silica gel. The wheel which has a honeycomb structure is sectioned off into two zones a working zone in which the air that requires drying is drawn through the honey comb structure and adsorbs the moisture within the air 22

23 stream. The second zone which is usually called the reactivation zone has pre heated air drawn through it in the opposite direction. The moisture held by the desiccant is then absorbed by the air and driven off as a warm wet vapour. The wheel rotates within unit at between 8 to 10 revolutions per hour so as the wheel moves from the reactivation zone it is and warm and dry and ready to accept more moisture. The optimum operating range of the desiccant dehumidifier is between 0 c and 25 c 40% to 90% relative humidity. 23

24 9.0 Monitoring i) Monitoring equipment There are many different types of equipment available and different methods used to measure both air conditions and the material equilibrium moisture levels The most widely used are: Hygrometers In order to measure the air conditions a digital hygrometer should be used this measure both temperature and relative humidity. The importance of undertaking this exercise is to ensure that the best condition is achieved which in turn allows an optimum evaporation process to take place and is also critical in insuring that secondary damage doesn t occur Relative humidity in excess of 70% could promote mould growth The digital hygrometer can be also be used to obtain the equilibrium relative humidity within a material and is independent of the quality and type of material. Its generally considered that if an equilibrium condition of less than 75% relative humidity is found it signifies that the material being measured is below the critical level for mould growth to occur and is in a safe state for finishes to be applied. Resistance/Conductance/meters The dry condition of many materials, for example wood, bricks, concrete forms what we call an insulator that means they won t conduct electricity in their dry state In other words they have a high resistance. As moisture is introduced into the material it increases its conductivity and allows a small current of electricity to pass through it. The greater the moisture the easier it becomes to conduct the electricity. There are many different resistance conductance meters available, the most important principle is to ensue that the individual taking the readings is suitably trained to understand the measurements and to interpret them in the correct way. Capacitance meters These meters create a harmless electrical field in the material, directly beneath the transmitter in the instrument, and then measures the response. The wetter the material the greater the response. Capacitance meters are non destructive but provide an instant measurement of the sub surface moisture levels in a variety of materials. 24

25 The measurements obtained provide an indication of moisture in the material below the surface this can be used as an alternative to the electrical resistance/ conductance meter. Calcium Carbide moisture meter The Calcium carbide meter is a pressure based test where the free water in a sample is converted to an acetylene gas by mixing with calcium carbide. The test relies on a sample of the material being obtained utilising a drill the sample is then weighed and inserted into the calcium carbide meter. The calcium carbide powder is then added ensuring that both the test material and the calcium carbide do not mix before the tester is sealed. The resulting test provides a quantitative assessment of moisture content as a percentage of the wet weight of the drilled material. For further information on different methods for testing both air and material moisture levels please refer to Ciria document A review of testing for moisture in materials Ciria C538 Details are available on CIRIA s Website : ii) Frequently asked questions Why can t I just go and hire some heaters to dry my property? Heat alone will not dry a property. The affect of a heater will be to raise the temperature which in turn will lower the relative humidity, however by only heating the air it has increased its capacity to hold moisture, and then, as soon as the heaters are turned off, the moisture will return to the walls floors etc, with condensation occurring on the windows. Should I turn my radiators on to dry the property? Again as the previous answer whilst we all agree that a suitable temperature is required to dry materials Uncontrolled heating can cause far more damage than the incident itself. Removal of the moisture being evaporated is essential, to avoid secondary damage. Is my property dry, because the screed floor looks nice and white? Within the first few hours of drying a certain amount of evaporation takes place from the surface whatever the degree of saturation within the material This gives the appearance of the material being dry, this is deceiving as decisions made regarding reinstatement such as the application of new floor covering could be taken before the material is dried correctly. The ultimate result of this action could be failure of the new floor after a short while. Will the flood affect the insulation in my cavity? This depends on the depth of floodwater and the type of construction the cavity should be inspected as part of the drying survey. If the insulation has degraded it might have too be removed, or dried in place. 25

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