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Flood insurance & how to protect your home if it’s a flood risk

Floodwater can cause substantial damage to your home and your belongings and the cost of repairs can be extortionate – often running into tens of thousands of pounds. Fortunately, flood insurance can help cover these costs so that you don’t have to pay for them out of your own pocket. 

flood insurance & flood risk guide
flood insurance & flood risk guide

Is flood insurance covered with standard home insurance?

For many people, flood insurance will be included as a standard part of their home insurance policy, which means their home will be protected against flood water damage. 

Where this may not be the case, however, is if you live in a high-risk area. 

Fortunately, thanks to the introduction of the Flood Re scheme in 2016, many people living in high-risk areas are still able to buy flood cover. 

The scheme was introduced by the government and insurance industry and works by allowing your insurer to pass on the flood risk element to the Flood Re scheme for a fixed price. Should you later make a claim for flooding, the insurer can recover those costs from Flood Re. 

Around 90% of home insurers use Flood Re, so if your home is high-risk, it’s worth looking for a participating insurer.

How is my flood insurance premium calculated?

The cost of home insurance with flood cover will depend on a range of factors, including:  

  • how close your home is to water 
  • your property’s flooding history
  • the materials your home is built from 
  • your property’s rebuild value
  • the design and age of your property 
  • the type of cover you’re buying (eg. contents and/or buildings insurance)

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance typically covers the costs of:

  • removing debris inside your home
  • professional fees such as solicitors, surveyors, and architects
  • drying out, repairing, and restoring your property, including fixtures and fittings 
  • repairing or replacing damaged furniture and personal possessions

What does flood insurance exclude?

As with any type of insurance policy, it’s important to check the small print carefully for exclusions. 

You’ll often find that flood cover won’t include alternative accommodation costs if you can’t stay in your home, flooding that occurs due to a burst pipe or escape of water, or damage to fences, gates and hedges.

What areas in the UK are most at risk of flooding?

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), more than five million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding. 

Regions with large quantities of rainfall and areas built on riversides or by the coast are usually at the greatest risk from floodwater. This commonly includes areas in:

  • Cornwall
  • Somerset
  • Kent
  • Essex
  • Sussex
  • Norfolk
  • Yorkshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Lincolnshire

To check whether your home is in a flood risk area, enter your postcode or location into the relevant flood risk map:

  • use the Gov.UK risk map for England and Wales
  • use the Scottish Environment Protection Agency website for Scotland
  • use the map on the Department for Infrastructure website for Northern Ireland

What is a flood zone?

Flood zones were introduced by the Environment Agency to help assess how likely an area is to flood from rivers or the sea. There are three different flood zones, as outlined below:

Flood zone 1 includes areas that have a less than 0.1% chance of flooding in any year – lowest risk.

Flood zone 2 includes areas that have between 0.1% and 1% chance of flooding from rivers in any year, or between 0.1% and 0.5% chance of flooding from the sea in any year – medium risk.

Flood zone 3 includes areas that have a 1% or higher chance of flooding from rivers, or a 0.5% or higher chance of flooding from the sea in any year – highest risk.

How can I protect my home against flooding?

If your home is at risk of flooding, there are two main categories that flood prevention and protection falls into – resistance and resilience. 

Resistance measures are designed to help prevent water getting into your home, while resilience measures are designed to reduce the damage caused by flood water if it does get in. 

Before carrying out any of these measures, it’s worth seeking advice from a flood-risk consultant or surveyor.

Resistance examples

  • Add airbrick covers to prevent water getting in through ventilation holes
  • Buy sandbags to block doorways, drains, and other openings into your property
  • Fit non-return valves on drains and pipes to avoid sewage flowing back through pipes from toilets and sinks
  • Keep gutters and drains free of debris
  • Install flood guards on doors and windows

Resilience examples

  • Put up high shelving to store valuable items or important documents (or move them upstairs)
  • Raise household appliances and electrical goods on plinths
  • Move electrical sockets to above 1.5 metres on the wall
  • Replace carpeted and vinyl floors with ceramic tiles
  • Fit stainless steel or solid wood kitchens instead of chipboard
  • Clear your garden of any ornaments or plants that could be swept away 

How can I prepare for a flood?

As well as the above steps, there are also several other measures you should take to ensure you’re fully prepared for a flood. These include:

  • Signing up for flood warnings and joining a flood action group.
  • Agreeing an evacuation plan with your family so you know where to go and how to contact each other.
  • Knowing how to turn off your gas, electricity, and water mains supply in the event flood water enters your home.
  • Preparing an emergency kit including insurance documents, emergency phone numbers, batteries, a torch, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, bottled water, supplies for your baby or pet, cash, warm waterproof clothing, blankets, toiletries, and prescription medication.

When buying home insurance, it’s also crucial to check the level of flood cover your chosen policy provides. Keep in mind that the cheapest policy isn’t always best – it’s far better to make sure you have sufficient cover in the event of a flood. 

When getting a flood insurance quote, always be honest about your home’s flooding history and be as accurate as possible when estimating the value of your household belongings.

Does flood insurance go up after a claim?

If you make a claim on your flood insurance policy, it’s more than likely your insurance premium will increase at renewal. To help keep this increase as small as possible, always shop around and compare flood insurance quotes rather than simply accepting the renewal price.

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