Find out what you can do to help prepare for possible floods, and how it could affect your home insurance policy
The past few years have seen extreme wet weather hit parts of the UK, with up to 200,000 homes requiring insurance against significant flood risk. A range of factors including the changing climate has led to predictions by the Environment Agency that a further 350,000 properties will fall into significant flood risk areas by 2035.
You can find out if your home is at risk by entering your postcode on to the Environment Agency’s flood maps and continue reading for the facts about floods and home insurance.
Making a flood home insurance claim
If your home is at risk from flooding then it’s a good idea to have contents as well as buildings insurance. However, insurers also factor in other sources of potential water damage so it’s worth getting a home insurance quote first to find out what’s available to you.
Typically claims can be made within six months of the event but it’s best to respond quickly with a full account of the damage. In the meantime mark on the wall in each room the level the flood water reached and photograph damaged property and possessions.
Similarly, any photos, receipts, bank statements and credit card bills that document your ownership over your home contents are especially useful as water damage can erode the usual labelling or identification on the items.
Your home insurance may arrange for your property to be cleaned, but if you decide to do it yourself be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves as flood water can sometimes contain sewage.
Although insurers are more likely to cover properties that are not at significant risk, the government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have an agreement designed to ensure that consumers are not priced out of the flood insurance market.
Flood insurance premiums increase
After a flood, home insurers are likely to increase the cost of premiums for customers, which for those living in areas prone to flood damage can seem unfair.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Association of British Insurers have an agreement to guarantee affordable flood insurance to the worst hit flood areas in the UK.
However, this does not absolutely prevent flood insurance premiums from increasing.
If you and your home have been affected by flood damage and risk having your insurance premiums going up, then it could be a good idea to look at your other insurance options.
How to protect your home against flooding
If you think there is a possibility you might be flooded at some point then be sure to keep an eye on the Environment Agency’s live flood warnings. It may also prove helpful to create a "flood kit”.
This kit should include items such as mops and buckets, cleaning equipment, a mobile phone, torch, waterproof clothing, first aid supplies and long-life food. Keep your kit upstairs or on a high shelf along with other essentials such as your home insurance documents.
Flood protection and damp prevention equipment such as sandbags, plastic covers to seal air bricks, and floorboards to fix around windows and doors could prove vital.
In the event of a flood turn off gas and electricity sources before any flood water enters your home and avoid contact with electronic devices. Only turn gas and electricity back on when it’s been checked by a qualified person.
Some homeowners may opt to flood-proof their property with a range of alterations and improvements such as replacing timber doors and cupboards with concrete and plastic.
Larger modifications can cost several thousands of pounds so it’s best to act quickly to find the best home insurance options and understand the risk your property might be in.
Helpful contact information
The National Flood Forum is an independent charity helping those who have been affected by flood damage and those who want advice on preparing for flooding in their area. You can call them for advice on 01299 403 055.
The Environment Agency works with Defra on issues affecting the environment, but most importantly provides regular updates on flood warnings. Register online for live flood updates.
The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) is a general advice hub for insurance but they can help you locate specialist insurance brokers. Call BIBA for help finding a specialist flood insurance broker on 0870 950 1790.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) represents the majority of UK insurers. Call ABI for flood insurance information and guidance on various insurance issues on 020 7600 3333.