How your bank will help you deal with flooding
As we approach the autumn and winter months, for many there is the very real threat of flooding. We look at what banks and credit card providers do to to help, along with all the emergency phone numbers you need to get in touch.
Home insurance customers who can no longer live in their home can get help to find temporary accommodation, and arrange for emergency payments to replace essential items in some circumstance. The phone number to make a claim on your policy is 0800 027 9844.
Bank customers can also request a temporary increase to their overdraft to help with emergency bills. Those without an overdraft can also apply for an emergency overdraft. Help is also available to customers worried about their mortgage payments. Customers wanting to discuss their options can call 0333 202 7501.
Business customers may also be able to get overdraft increases and capital repayment holidays of up to six months on existing loans in some cases. These customers should call 0345 605 2345 to discuss the options.
Support is also on hand for farmers, who may be offered capital repayment holidays of up to 12 months on mortgages and loans, in order to ease cash flow problems over the coming months. They are advised to contact their own Agricultural Manager directly.
Barclaycard can arrange emergency cash immediately for its customers through its World Wide Assistance Service and will waive the usual 2.99% cash handling fee for sterling transactions.
If you've reached your credit limit, it will be able to authorise a temporary increase in some cases.
The credit card provider will also relax its late payment policies for affected customers in some circumstances if they get in touch.
Its 24-hour emergency helpline is 0800 056 3449 (free from most landlines).
The same help is available as it is for HSBC customers as the online bank is a subsidiary of HSBC. Full details below.
The bank says it will provide "increased financial flexibility to our customers, such as fast-track credit acceptance, and loan and overdraft extensions". The bank will also remove limits on emergency payments for insurance customers to ensure they receive immediate support to repair flood damage.
Its insurance call centre staff are working additional hours to ensure calls and claims are dealt with quickly - with most calls answered within 20 seconds. HSBC home insurance customers should call 0845 300 5899 and car insurance customers should call 0844 871 2330.
Insurance claim loss adjusters have also been posted to some of the worst-hit areas, such as Somerset and the Thames Valley to ensure claims can be processed quickly.
HSBC will also consider loan repayment holidays of up to three months and waive or reduce arrangement fees on loans and overdrafts in some cases. Help is available by calling 08457 404 404.
An emergency response unit made up of specialist insurance staff has been sent out to affected areas. For insurance claims, call 0800 056 3811.
The bank is providing emergency payments and offering alternative accommodation where needed to individuals and same-day bank transfers for crucial items including clothing, food and alternative accommodation are available on request.
Business customers can also access support from a £250 million fund to provide fee-free lending for businesses and farmers. Businesses can apply through Lloyds Banking Group's network of branches and business centres.
The bank has also been increasing overdrafts, waiving fees and providing loan repayment holidays for business customers affected. The group is also continuing to provide 1% discounts on loans to small and medium-sized enterprises through the Funding for Lending Scheme.
The same assistance is available as that offered to HSBC customers as HSBC provides the retailer's banking service.
Nationwide has emergency support teams ready to help customers in difficulty. Home insurance customers who have questions about their contents or buildings cover or wish to make a claim can phone the bank on 0845 835 1054. Its insurance partners also have people on the ground in affected areas to try to offer fast help.
Mortgage customers in need of help with their repayments can call 0845 601 1184.
Current account customers are able to ask for a temporary overdraft or an increase in their overdraft limit to cover emergency expenses. Help is available over the phone by calling 0845 601 1184.
NatWest and RBS will help home insurance customers find alternative accommodation should their home become inhabitable (at a cost of up to £25,000 for Standard and £50,000 for Elite policyholders). All insurance customers can access the 24-hour emergency helpline on 0845 601 3004.
NatWest and RBS mortgage customers may be able to apply for a three-month mortgage repayment holiday depending on their circumstances. They will be able to keep their remaining mortgage payments the same by extending their mortgage term by three months. Customers of both banks can call the dedicated helpline on 0800 408 0840 for more information.
The banks can also set up overdrafts or look at increasing existing limits in some circumstances. NatWest customers should call 0345 788 8444 and RBS customers 0345 724 2424 to discuss these options.
NatWest and RBS have also increased daily ATM withdrawal limits from £300 to £500 and in the event of a customer’s debit card has been lost or destroyed due to flooding, they can access emergency cash either through the banks’ Mobile Banking apps, subject to available funds. Customers will be issued with a code to withdraw cash from ATMs.
New and existing small business customers also have access to the banks' £250 million UK Storm Business Fund, which can provide short-term, interest-free financing to help speed recovery for businesses affected by recent floods and gales.
Specialist business support teams will also shortly be deployed to affected areas to help with short-term financial problems as they conduct urgent repair work and deal with loss of trading income.
Santander can offer customers overdraft extensions – personal or business – and they will be made without renewal or extension fees being levied.
For mortgage customers, Santander says it is reviewing each case individually but help available includes payment holidays or converting mortgage loans to interest only.
It is helping small business customers by extending their current loan facilities by up to six months on existing terms in some cases and will consider additional support if required.
For farmers, it says it will extend their loan agreements by up to 12 months.
Customers and community groups will be invited to nominate local projects where a donation could help get them back on their feet. Grants of up to £5,000 will be available to cover the costs of equipment or materials. For more information, see santanderfoundation.org.uk.
An overdraft is an agreement with your bank that authorises you to withdraw more funds from your account than you have deposited in it. Many banks charge for this privilege either as a fixed fee or charge interest on the money overdrawn at a special high rate. Some banks charge a fee and interest. And other banks offer a free overdraft but impose very high charges for exceeding the agreed limit of your overdraft.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.
An account opened with a clearing bank (few building societies offer current accounts) that provides the ability to draw cash (usually via a debit card) or cheques from the account. Some pay fairly minimal rates of interest if the account is in credit. Most current accounts insist your monthly income (salary or pension) is paid directly in each month and they offer a number of optional services – such as overdrafts and charge cards – which are negotiable but will incur fees.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.