A flood can cause serious damage to a property, resulting in expensive and time-consuming repairs. According to the Environment Agency, over five million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding from either rivers or the sea. Taking into account other potential causes of floods, such as burst pipes, blocked drains and sewers, it may well be that as many as ten million homes across the country are at risk. Even more troublingly, it seems the erratic weather that the UK has experienced in recent years has added to the risk of major flood damage.
In 2012, the UK experienced particularly heavy and consistent rainfall. The resulting floods had a serious effect on 8,000 properties, causing as much as £400 million-worth of damage.
Perhaps not surprisingly, insurers are reluctant to cover homes in flood risk areas. If your property is in an area that is prone to flooding, or has a history of making claims for flood damage, it can be very difficult to get buildings insurance that will cover the full cost of repairs. Even if you can get coverage, the premiums are likely to be high, and you may have to pay a large amount in excesses, i.e. the amount that you, as the policy holder, has to pay towards each claim. When it comes to paying out for flood damage, insurers often require policy holders to pay excesses that run into thousands of pounds.
However, there are measures that you can take to increase your likelihood of getting home insurance even though you live in a property at risk of flooding. And it may also be possible to lower the average cost of your premiums.
Assessing your property’s risk
Before approaching insurers, it is a good idea to find out for yourself what your property’s risk of flooding is. You can do this by entering your post code on the website of the Environment Agency. This is the same source of information that the insurers use, and it gives a good indication of the likelihood of your home being affected by flooding from either rivers or the sea.
However, the risk factor shown by the Environment Agency does not include the risk of flooding from other sources, and insurers know this. Although a home is considered low risk for flood damage from the sea or a nearby river, it may be prone to flooding caused by a drain or sewer. Each insurer has its own system for measuring the potential risk posed to your home by other sources of flooding, and one thing they are very likely to take into account is the property’s claims history for flooding damage.
Protecting your home from flooding
There are measures that you can take to protect your home from flooding, and these will likely increase your chances of getting buildings insurance if you live in a flood prone area, and even of getting lower premiums. Flood boards can be an effective means of preventing shallow floods from seriously damaging your property.
Homeowners whose properties are at serious risk of major flooding damage may want to consider sealing the floor. This is an expensive measure, but it will drastically reduce the likelihood of water rising up from the ground. For a more detailed analysis of the steps you can take to protect your home and to find the best insurance policy, it is worth consulting the British Insurance Brokers Association.