Over the last couple of weeks, thousands of households in England and Scotland have been affected by serious flooding.

Storm Desmond hit many parts of Cumbria, Lanarkshire and Lancashire and many people have been forced out of their homes due to serious flood damage.

While insurers have promised to act quickly to help, it could be months before households affected by the floods return to normal. While comprehensive buildings and contents insurance will generally cover you for flood damage, you should still make sure you’re getting the best from your policy.

Keep reading to find out more about flood payouts and how you can get the most from your home insurance.

What your insurance might cover you for

If your home has been flooded then you should be covered by your home insurance. Some policies will provide ‘new for old’ cover to replace items lost or damaged while others will pay the current value of items.

Most insurance policies will cover you for the cost of alternative accommodation if your house is uninhabitable. Many will also provide cash payments to cover any unexpected expenses.

The excess on your policy will vary, often depending on the flood risk of the area where you live. The Daily Telegraph reports that ‘those considered at a low risk of flooding usually pay between £100 and £250. This rises to around £2,500 for properties at moderate risk and can reach up to £25,000 for those with a history of flooding.’

5 steps to getting the most from your house insurance

1. Fix immediate problems

If you have suffered flood damage then deal with immediate issues first. You should get an emergency plumber or electrician in to fix any pressing problems and turn off your gas, electricity or water if necessary.

Your insurer should reimburse you for the cost of emergency work but you should keep the receipts for any work you have paid for.

2. Speak to your insurance company

Once emergency issues have been dealt with, speak to your insurance company about making a claim. Your insurer will want you to give an accurate report of the damage and exactly what you need to do next.

Your insurance company may let you choose a local tradesman or they might arrange a builder or plumber on your behalf. Don’t hire anyone until you have received confirmation from your insurer.

3. Make records of the damage

If you can, take plenty of photographs and/or video footage of the rooms in your home that have been damaged by flooding. You can also keep samples of any carpets, curtains or items that have been damaged.

This will help to support your claim to your insurer and also to remind you of any possessions you have lost.

4. Find somewhere else to stay

If you can’t stay in your home, talk to your insurer about what alternative accommodation arrangements you should make.

Some insurers have deals with local hotels where they can secure a discount, so don’t book into a hotel without talking to your insurer first.

5. Ask your insurer to send round a loss adjuster

If you have suffered serious damage and your claim is likely to be high, your insurance company is likely to want to send around a loss adjuster. This person will come and carry out an inspection of the damage.

Most insurers aim to send someone within 24 hours although in cases of severe flooding it can take longer.