Fires, floods and feelings of hopelessness

The emotional damage revealed

The physical damage caused by fires and floods can be easy to spot, but new research from insurer LV= reveals the devastating impact that these events can also have on victims’ emotional wellbeing.

In a study of people who have experienced a fire or flood first-hand, half (50%) reported that they suffered mental health issues because of the ordeal. The figures also show that over a third (35%) of victims think the emotional damage is worse than the physical, with over two fifths (44%) stating that their children’s emotional wellbeing was also affected, and 35% saying the fire or flood put a strain on their family relationships.

A third of fire and flood victims (33%) say they felt ‘helpless’ in the aftermath, with one in five (19%) experiencing confidence issues and a quarter (24%) feeling ‘traumatised’.

These statistics are particularly worrying as research conducted in parallel by LV= shows that 47% of people in the South West have not taken any proactive measures to protect their homes against fires or floods, leaving around one million properties at risk. Added to this, nearly half (46%) of people in Plymouth admit they would not know what to do if faced with such an event.

The most commonly damaged items in fires and floods are higher-priced possessions such as furniture and furnishings (39%), electronics such as TVs and consoles (38%), and white goods such as fridges and freezers (33%). However, when asked which items they wish they could have saved, photographs were the most popular choice (27%), while 19% said they would have saved keepsakes such as love letters.

LV=’s research results are released at a time when storms are bringing severe wet weather to the UK, and when fires are increasingly caused by festive items such as candles. LV=’s own figures reveal that cases of fires spike by around 30% in December compared to the rest of the year.

To support its customers that go through such harrowing events, LV= has produced some online guidance for victims of fires and floods to help them identify steps they can take to regain their confidence. Alongside this, the insurer is offering victims of fires and floods free access to a range of confidential telephone support services, open 24 hours a day. For details of the support services, and to see the guidance, please visit

Martin Milliner, Director of General Insurance Claims at LV=, commented: “As an insurer which supports over 1,000 victims of fires and floods every year, we want to go above and beyond to support our customers both financially and emotionally.”

“To assist with this, employees who handle cases of large fires and floods go through specialist training to understand the severity of the situations. We find this gives them added empathy and helps them better respond to the emotional needs of those affected.”

“Following our new research, we are taking our commitment one step further by offering customers affected by these incidents free access to counselling services. We are also publishing online guidance to help people understand how best to protect their emotional wellbeing and restore their confidence at a difficult time,” Martin concluded.  

LV= has also created a new social media film which highlights the devastating impact a flood had on one family’s Christmas, available to view at 



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