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Flood damage and your home insurance policy

Flood damage can be hugely expensive and take months to put right.

Flood damage

If you don’t have a good insurance policy, it could wash your wealth away. In the last decade, insurers have paid a £4.5 billion to flood victims, with claims rising a massive 200 per cent in the past decade, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

One in six homes in England is currently at risk of flooding, while 500,000 people face a significant flood risk, the ABI says. As the climate continues to change, this could rise to 840,000 by 2035.

Wash out

Flooding is one of the worst things that can happen to your home, and there is little you can do personally to protect yourself. It is up to the local authorities to build adequate flood defences.

Flood damage can take months to put right, during which time you may have to move out and rent another property. 

Not everybody’s house is in serious danger of being flooded. But if your property is in a floodplain, near a river, or a bit too close to the sea, it could be a very real worry.

Don't assume you're automatically covered

Flood insurance is a fundamental part of both buildings and household contents insurance, but don’t assume you are automatically covered. If your home is at particular risk, you might need to buy a specialist flood insurance policy.

If you’re concerned, you must dig out your existing household insurance policy, and read the section on flooding carefully. Most household insurance policies do cover flood risk as standard, but as ever, they are likely to offer different levels of cover.

All members of the ABI adhere to a scheme called the Statement of Principles, which means they can't refuse cover for a homeowner who lives in a high-risk flood area. There are some exclusions to this, which you can read in the ABI's full breakdown of the Statement of Principles.

Look out for any exclusions, and check what your insurer will give you in terms of alternative accommodation while any damage to your home is repaired.

How a flood impacts your premiums

If you ever suffer a flood in your home, you can expect to pay a much higher insurance premium in future.

You might also have to pay a larger excess on any claims: in extreme cases, this could be as much as £10,000. An excess is the amount you have to pay yourself, with the insurer paying the rest of the claim.

How different insurers respond varies greatly. Residents whose streets have been flooded are often shocked to discover that their equally drenched neighbour has a much lower policy excess and premiums than they do, even though they live in an identical property.

No insurance, no mortgage

If you have suffered a flood, you might find household insurance difficulty or expensive to get in future. 

While insurers are committed to offering existing customers flood cover following a washout, new insurers are under no such obligation, and are likely to turn you away. More than half a million homes in England could become uninsurable unless action is taken to protect them against flooding.

This can have the disastrous knock-effect of making it very hard to sell your home, because few people want to buy a property that is liable to be flooded, or that costs a packet to insure.
And if you can’t get buildings insurance, you won’t be able to get a mortgage either, as lenders won’t offer finance if you can’t insure the bricks and mortar of your property. According to some estimates, a serious flood could wipe 80 per cent off your property value.

Specialist protection

If you are struggling to find flood insurance from a mainstream insurer, or just want extra protection, you could search for specialist flood insurance.

Flood insurance tends to be individually underwritten, to meet the homeowner’s personal circumstances. You may have to pay a higher premium, but that’s better than having no cover at all.

Buyers beware

If you are buying a property, remember to look at flood risk very carefully. Before buying, get quotes from an insurance company to see whether it will cover you, and how much you have to pay. If it is in a floodplain, think very carefully before buying.

Find out more about home insurance