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Could Landowners solve the harsh reality of flooding claims?

View profile for Sarah Whitehurst
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There are few guarantees in life but receiving phone calls for flooding advice whenever it rains is one of them. Over the past few months, we’ve received more calls than ever, demonstrating an uncertainty surrounding what victims of flooding may be entitled to. Understandably, in many cases, the dire effects of flooding do leave people feeling frustrated and hopeless. However, if current weather patterns continue, these issues will become increasingly common.

Common causes of flooding
Residents and business owners occupying lower land, frequently situated near farms, often think they have a claim when they experience flooding, but the reality is that they are legally obliged to take water from higher land.

Similarly, modern highways are often resurfaced so unwanted water runs off onto farmland either side, with many council owned drainage systems being outdated, poorly maintained, and unable to deal with modern weather, farmers often also fall victim to flooding through no fault of their own and are forced to take matters into their own hands in order to mitigate flooding risk and associated losses. We therefore frequently receive enquiries from farmers – who often unfairly face the brunt of flooding complaints – about how they can respond to issues.

How are landowners and farmers providing solutions?
Despite farmers not being obliged to assist flood prevention, they are known to store water on land and dig hollows to collect rainwater instead of letting it dangerously run down into surrounding areas.

The agriculture industry is also developing schemes to look after local communities and the environment on a larger scale, such as exploring alternative ways to use water instead of getting rid of it. Sophisticated water management systems are increasingly being installed to control, store, and recycle water where possible. The aim is to shift from extracting water from the ground to more efficiently using surplus rainwater and solve water issues far and wide.

Coastal landowners have also been investing their own time and capital in developing flood walls using soil from their own land. This technique is subject to increasing levels of coastal erosion, but the commitment is admirable considering it serves wider communities.

Should I make a claim if my house or business is flooded?
Victims of flooding often do their own research in an attempt to circumvent lawyers’ fees, usually with limited success.  A no win-no-fee approach is popular, although the outcomes can often be disappointing for claimants.

While an ideal result might entail heavy-duty responses from local authorities in the form of better drainage and flood defences, this is uncommon. It is possible to receive financial compensation but fixing the root cause of the flooding is rarely part of the settlement, resulting in continued problems.

It’s important to know where you stand when it comes to flooding claims and identify potential solutions. Although, flooding is rarely straightforward, there are many cases in which the problem can be rectified. In the event of a fault being identified, claimants can build applications to either get adjacent landowners to make sufficient changes or they can gain access to the land in order to do it for themselves.

If you believe you have a claim or have been a victim of flooding, we recommend that you get in touch with both your insurance company and our team at Roythornes to find out what can be done.