It is estimated that one in six homes in the UK is at risk of flooding, which equates to more than five million properties.
If you live in a high-risk flood area, it’s best to protect yourself by getting flood insurance cover. If you don’t and the worst happens, you could be left with an expensive repair bill. The average cost of repairing a flooded home is around £50,000, which most people would find impossible to pay themselves.
If you don’t know whether you’re in a high-risk area or not, you can use the government’s flood risk postcode checker to find out. If you are, it’s worth signing up for free flood warnings by email, phone or text, and getting a copy of the flooding history of your home from the Environment Agency.
What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance cover is included in your home insurance policies. Buildings insurance protects the structure of your property, as well as fixtures and fittings, fixed kitchen units and bathroom suites. Contents cover protects your belongings; in broad terms, the items you’d take with you if you moved home.
If you’re a homeowner, you’ll need to get both buildings and contents insurance to be fully protected from flood damage. It’s worth checking your policy documents to see if you’d be offered alternative accommodation if your home was uninhabitable for a period of time. This is usually included as standard, but different limits may apply, depending on your insurer.
Will I have to pay more?
When insurers calculate how much your premium should be, they try to predict the likelihood of you making a claim. Living in an area which is at high-risk of flooding will count against you, so you should expect to pay more than you would if you lived in a low-risk area.
Flood Re was launched in April 2016 to help make home insurance more affordable for those in high-risk areas, or those who have suffered from previous flood damage. Insurers partner up with Flood Re to pass the flood part of home insurance policies bought by their customers to the not-for-profit organisation. It’s worth noting that not all properties can be ceded to Floor Re, those built after the 1st of January 2009 are not eligible.
The premiums charged on Flood Re policies are capped based on Council Tax bands, which should mean that you’ll pay less for your annual home insurance that you would have before April 2016.
How can I protect my home?
Prevention is better than cure, so here are a few things you can do to protect your home, as well as making sure you have adequate home insurance:
- Install electrical equipment and shelving higher up your wall so you have more time to move your belongings, if flood water enters your home.
- Fit electrical sockets higher up your walls.
- Consider installing sewer or septic line valves to your toilets and pipes. This will stop sewage from coming back into your home.
- Add a waterproof coating to your walls and skirting boards.
- Opt for a tiled floor with a rug that you can easily move, rather than a carpet.
- Buy removable barriers and seals, and keep them in your garage or shed, so they’re close to hand.
- Put a contingency plan in place and inform every member of your household, so everyone knows exactly what to do if flooding looks imminent.