What is flood insurance?

Protecting your home against the risk of flooding

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If your home is in a flood-risk area, insurance can protect your property and contents from flood damage, and contribute towards the cost of replacement, rebuilding or repairs

Rescue team evacuating stranded residents

What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance is normally included as standard in most home insurance policies, and it provides you with coverage for costs resulting from flood damage. Buildings insurance  covers the structure of the property, with your belongings and possessions covered by a contents policy.

Flood insurance refers to flooding caused by high amounts of rainfall or an overflowing river, rather than burst pipes or a dodgy water main.

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance offers coverage as part of standard buildings insurance for flood-related costs including:

  • Drying out your home
  • Restoring any fittings and fixtures, like lights and kitchens
  • Removing debris
  • Fees for services needed after a flood, including legal representation, or surveyor and architect fees

If flooding causes damage to any of your belongings meanwhile, you’ll need to claim on your contents insurance for things like:

  • Furniture, including carpets, sofas and tables
  • Electrical goods, including TVs and computers
  • Any other personal belongings you’ve added to your contents insurance. There may be a single-item value limit which would exclude possessions worth over a certain amount. You need to tell your insurer about especially valuable jewellery, gadgets, instruments or sports equipment when you apply for contents insurance

What is a new-for-old insurance policy?

Your contents policy is likely to provide new-for-old coverage. This means your insurer will pay to replace any damaged items with brand new items. Some insurers make exceptions to this policy – for example, if any clothes are damaged in a flood, they might make deductions due to wear and tear.

It’s important to remember that insurance policies vary in terms of the exact level of coverage they provide, so it’s a good idea to read the policy documents before making a decision.

What isn’t covered by flood insurance?

Some flood insurance issues will only be covered as additional extras, so you might not be covered for the following:

  • Alternative accommodation costs: In case your home becomes inhabitable while it’s being repaired after a flood. Even if cover is provided for this, make sure you know how much your insurer is willing to pay to house you while your home is being repaired
  • Escape of water: If the water damage comes from a pipe leaking or bursting in your home, it comes under the ‘escape of water’ section of your policy, not flooding cover
  • Fences, hedges and gates: Flood damage to fences, hedges and gates may not be covered by standard flood insurance

It’s a good idea to read the policy documents carefully to see what is and isn’t covered as part of an insurer’s standard flood insurance policy – and what you can include as additional cover.

How much does flood insurance cost?

The premiums you pay for flood insurance depend on several factors, but the most significant is how likely your home is to be flooded. The higher the risk, the more expensive the policy will be.

Consumers whose homes have never been flooded pay an average of £96 per year for home insurance, according to MoneySuperMarket data. Home-owners who have been the victims of flooding before can expect to pay more than double – at an average of £199.

Homes built more than 400m from a source of running water pay an average of £95 for their home insurance every year, compared with an average of £125 for those less than 400m away.

Home insurance is £29 more expensive if you live within 400m of water, and over £150 more expensive if you’ve been flooded before

According to data collected by MoneySuperMarket between January 2018 and January 2020, accurate as of February 2020

Flood re and home insurance for flood-risk areas

Flood Re is a joint scheme run by the government and the insurance industry that’s bringing down the cost of insurance for homes in high-risk areas.

If you make a claim on your home insurance for flood damage, your insurer will pay out and Flood Re will then reimburse the insurer in order to keep the costs of flood insurance manageable.

You can check whether your home is in a high-risk area with the government’s flood map. Enter your postcode and you’ll be able to see how much risk your home is in – if any.

You may also want to sign up for free flood warnings, and the Environmental Agency can provide you with a property’s flood history.

More people claimed for flood damage in Hull than anywhere else in the UK between 2018 and 2020

According to data collected by MoneySuperMarket between February 2019 and February 2020, accurate as of February 2020.

How can I keep my home safe in a flood?

To give yourself the best chance of keeping your home and belongings safe in a flood or storm, take the following precautions:

Before a flood

  1. Listen for flood warnings: Keep an ear out for local flood warnings – you can check the radio and TV news as well as gov.uk
  2. Take preventative measures: Sandbags and flood boards will be in high demand once a flood warning is given, so buy them in advance. Sandbags can be used to seal doorways, and you can also place them in sinks and toilets to prevent sewage backflow. You should also block any air bricks using plastic sheeting
  3. Prepare an emergency kit: Put together an emergency kit or grab-bag with all the vitals you need in the event of a flood –  we recommend including insurance documents, a battery-powered torch and radio, waterproof clothing and blankets, bottled water, non-perishable food and medication, a first-aid kit, phone chargers and any food you need for babies and pets
  4. Take pre-flood photos: Take photos of your home before the flooding starts so you have a before-and-after to show your insurer and support any claims you make
  5. Turn electricity, gas and water off: Ensure mains electricity is shut off before floodwater enters your home as it is an electrocution risk. You should also turn the gas and water mains off
  6. Shut your windows and doors: Make sure all windows and doors are shut to reduce the amount of floodwater entering your home
  7. Evacuate vulnerable people: Evacuate young children and pets before the flooding begins as they are particularly vulnerable
  8. Move your car to high ground: If you have time before the floodwater reaches your area, take your car to higher ground
  9. Protect your belongings: Think about what belongings you can move to a safe place – for example, any electronics or items of personal value

During a flood

  1. Remove your belongings: If floodwater has already started entering your home, take any belongings you can upstairs, including important documents, electronics, valuables and expensive furniture
  2. Take further preventative measures: Plug your sinks and baths, and weigh the plugs down with heavy objects so they don’t pop out and allow floodwater in
  3. Avoid swimming, walking and driving through floodwater: Floodwater is more powerful than it appears – just six inches of rapidly-moving water can knock an adult over, and two feet can float a vehicle. It is also likely to be contaminated and could make you ill– if you come into contact with it, wash your hands and clothes thoroughly
  4. Stay updated: Stay tuned to local news so you’re aware of any impending dangers or risks

After a flood

  1. Be careful of standing water: Standing floodwater can still carry risks like contamination, sharp objects or an electric current, so avoid it when you can – and if you can’t, wear waterproof clothing and wellington boots
  2. Don’t turn on electronics: Don’t turn on any electrical items until they’ve completely dried out, as this could damage them even further
  3. Dispose of food: Get rid of any food that might’ve come into contact with the floodwater
  4. Boil tap water or use bottled water: Don’t drink water straight from the tap – use bottled water or boiled tap water instead until your water supply is declared safe. You should contact your water supplier to be sure
  5. Take more photos: Take photos of the aftermath to show to your insurer as evidence of damage caused by the flooding
  6. Ventilate your home: Open doors and windows once the flooding is declared finished so you can ventilate and dry out your home – remember to unlock air bricks

How to make a claim on flood insurance

If your home becomes flooded, this is what you can do to make sure your insurance provider covers the damage:

  • Let your insurer know: If there’s a flood which causes damage that you’ll need to claim for,  tell your insurer as soon as possible
  • Gather evidence: As mentioned above, take pictures and/or video recordings of the flood and any damage it causes, and note down details like the depth of the water
  • Leave everything as it is: Wait until you’ve talked to your insurer before trying to clear or repair anything that’s been damaged by the flooding, in case it affects your claim
  • Consider consulting a loss assessor: Insurance companies can appoint a loss assessor/adjustor to look into a claim and decide how much they’ll pay out. You can also contact a loss assessor to represent your claim – but you’ll be charged a fee

Excess and no-claims bonus

If it’s mild, consider whether the flood damage is worth claiming on your buildings insurance. If you’ve added a voluntary excess fee to your insurance policy, a small claim may not be worth it.

If you’re able to cover the repair costs yourself, you can avoid paying the excess and keep your no-claims bonus. This could help to keep your premium costs down in the future.

If you’re with an insurer which offers flood insurance as part of the Flood Re scheme, you’ll need to pay a £250 Flood Re excess fee for any loss or damage claims that happen as a result of the flood.

Will I be able to find home insurance after a flood?

Insurers are not allowed to refuse cover for homes in flood risk areas, so long as the government are still funding local flood defences. However as discussed above, you’ll generally need to shell out more for cover, both in premiums and excess payments.

You’ll be able to take out home insurance as normal – and remember shopping around before you buy is the best way to find the most affordable policy that offers the cover you need.

Compare flood insurance quotes

You can compare home insurance policies by the level of cover they provide with MoneySuperMarket’s home insurance comparison tool. Answer a few questions about yourself, your home and your area – including the flood risks – and you’ll be able to browse a list of policies.

If you are in a flood-risk area, you’ll need to make sure your home insurance would cover the cost of repairs and restoration to your home and contents in the event of a flood. The cheapest policy may not offer the right level of cover for your home, so it’s important to compare.

You can compare different policies by the level and amount of cover they offer, the minimum excess you’ll need to pay, as well as inclusions and extras, customer ratings and reviews, and the actual price of the policy itself.

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