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What to do if there’s a flood?

It can be rather worrying when it rains on top of thawing snow for days on end and the weather apps start issuing local flood warnings. And rightly so, as floods can have disastrous results. Here are some key points to note, and a summary of the damage that is insured.

29 January 2021, author: Helvetia, photo: Depositphotos

Torrential rain combined with meltwater can result in very serious damage.
Torrential rain combined with meltwater can result in very serious damage.

When a storm is on its way and poses a threat of flooding, close and seal your doors and windows. To avoid short-circuits, disconnect any electrical devices that are not in use. If you have a mains gas tap, turn it off. Then gather up any objects that are of special importance to you: take them to higher ground or to an upper storey. Personal effects such as heirlooms or mementos cannot be replaced. Stay away from cellars.

Emergency action in the event of high water

Even if water ingress has begun, there are still things you can do. Above all, however, don’t take any risks. Make sure that anyone living in the house or flat, as well as any animals, are taken to safety. Action to take in the event of damage:

• If necessary, call the fire service (tel. 118).
• Pump or scoop the water out of the rooms affected.
• Take photos that clearly show the damage and make a list of the damaged objects.
• Report the damage to your insurer immediately. Claims experts will help you with the principal measures that need to be taken.

Insurance for damage caused by natural forces to buildings and household contents varies from canton to canton. Here is a brief summary:

Damage to buildings

  • In most cantons, damage caused by natural forces is covered by the mandatory cantonal buildings insurance.
  • In the cantons of Geneva, Uri, Schwyz, Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Valais, Obwalden and in the Principality of Liechtenstein, buildings are to be insured through private insurance companies (e.g. Helvetia). In these cantons, no cantonal building insurance exists.

Damage to household contents

  • In the cantons of Nidwalden and Vaud, damage caused by natural forces is covered through the mandatory cantonal fire insurance.
  • In the remaining cantons, damage caused by natural forces is to be insured though private insurance companies (e.g. Helvetia).

Cleaning up after a flood can be extremely tiring and time-consuming. Although Helvetia will pay the costs – assuming this type of damage is covered by your policy – you will still unfortunately have to deal with the organizational and clean-up work. And bear in mind that the next storm may not be long in coming. So check to see what modifications or precautions are needed to protect your home against damage the next time a storm threatens.

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