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Flood insurance

Protect your home against flood damage

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What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance generally covers your home and possessions against flooding caused by an outside source, such as a river, stream, lake or tidal waters.

These flood risks are covered as standard on most home insurance policies. Some insurers will also cover groundwater flooding, which is a slightly different form of flood damage. Flood insurance can pay the costs of drying out your home, removing debris and repairing your property following a flood.

What does flood insurance cover?

What flood insurance covers depends on the type of home insurance you take out and also varies from insurer to insurer.

Home insurance falls into two main categories: buildings insurance and contents insurance.

Buildings insurance will cover the structural part of your property, as well as damage to permanent fixtures caused by flooding.

Contents insurance covers your household and personal belongings against events such as flooding, including your flooring, furniture and electrical items.

To be covered against the risks of flooding, it’s best to take out both, either as a combined policy or separate policies from different insurers.

It could also be worth finding a home insurance policy that will provide cover for alternative accommodation in the event of a flood and one with accidental damage included.

How much does flood insurance cost?

The cost of flood insurance depends on lots of different factors, including the type of insurance you’ve bought.

When you buy insurance, whether that’s a combined or separate policy, you’ll be asked a range of different questions. From these, an insurer will judge how likely you are to make an insurance claim. This is what they base your price on. Your exact price will be unique to you.

Do I need flood insurance?

The general consensus is that the risk of flooding has increased in the UK and Europe due to climate change, therefore flood insurance may be a good idea.

The Environment Agency has estimated that 1 in 6 or 5.2 million properties in England are at risk of flood from rivers and sea.

According to the government, flooding in 2015/16 cost the UK economy £1.6bn while economic losses from flooding between November 2019 and March 2020 were estimated to be about £333m.

In England, February 2020 was one of the wettest ever during what was the fifth wettest winter on record.

The risk of flooding from extreme weather is therefore a real worry for homeowners. Concerned about your own home’s risk of flooding? Then flood insurance may be for you.

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Can I still get home insurance if I live in a flood risk area?

In short, yes. Finding affordable home insurance for flood risk areas used to be very difficult but it’s become much easier since the launch of the Flood Re scheme in 2016.

If you live in a flood risk area and your property was built before 1 January 2009, then you could potentially benefit from this non-profit joint initiative between the UK government and insurers.

Every insurer that offers home insurance in the UK must pay into the scheme, with the levy raising £180m every year to cover the flood risks in home insurance policies. When you buy home insurance, your insurer may choose to pass the flood risk element of your policy to Flood Re for a fixed price. Your insurer can then be reimbursed for any valid flood claims you make via the scheme.

Provided your house was built before 1 January 2009 and you live in a flood risk area, all you need to do to benefit from the scheme is take out home insurance with a participating insurer.

The good news is that most insurers are taking part in the Flood Re scheme. A full list of those participating is available on the Flood Re website.

Pooling the risk of flooding in this way between insurers helps keep insurance costs down for high risk areas. It also means you could get home insurance even if you live in a flood risk area.

How do I get a quote?

Getting a quote for home insurance takes about 8 minutes. If you've used us before, it's even quicker.

To get started you'll need to let us know some details about your home and its contents, including:

  • The build date
  • The type of property and when you moved in or bought it
  • What types of locks you have on external doors
  • The value of your home's contents
  • The estimated rebuild cost
  • The level of cover you need

You can also add extras like home emergency cover or accidental damage to your policy while you're getting a quote. 

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What is groundwater flooding? Will my flood insurance cover it?

Flooding from groundwater occurs when the water table rises, which means the level of water within the rock or soil underground has increased.

If the water table rises significantly, it can reach ground level and breach the surface, causing flooding.

For homeowners, it can manifest itself in two ways: as damp, or, in extreme cases, as water seeping through floors or basements. This can be devastating, with the cost of groundwater flooding damage potentially running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Certain parts of the country are more at risk from groundwater flooding than others, including areas with chalk/permeable bedrock.

The British Geological Survey says up to 290,000 properties in England are located in areas at risk of groundwater flooding.

Your home insurance won’t necessarily cover groundwater flooding. So if you live in an area at risk of groundwater flooding, you should check insurance documents carefully to make sure you choose a policy that covers this hazard.

What our home insurance expert says

If you live in a flood risk area, you don’t want to be on edge when the weather takes a turn. Preventative measures like flood defences can only go so far and having flood insurance in place can give you peace of mind financially.

It’s important to know that flood insurance doesn’t cover flooding caused by burst pipes or an escape of water. For that, you’ll need to add home emergency cover to your policy.

Jessica Willock home insurance expert signature

Jessica Willock

Home insurance product manager

Need more help?

Can I do anything to prevent flood risk?

There are lots of things you can do to prevent flood risk, starting with making sure you have the right kind of insurance cover. Next, there’s a range of flood defences you can have installed which should lower the risk of damage to your property.

Can I get flood insurance for my business premises?

Most commercial properties aren’t included, but it’s always worth checking with Flood Re or your insurer to make sure.

Do renters need flood insurance?

If you’re renting, you don’t need to worry about buildings insurance – this is the responsibility of the landlord or whoever owns the freehold on the property.

However, you should consider taking out contents insurance to protect your own belongings from flood risk. If you own any especially expensive items like pricey jewelry or high end electronics, it may be a good idea to consider high value contents insurance too. This should help ensure you can replace those big ticket items if your home does flood.

Asking yourself how much contents insurance do I need? Try our handy guide for tips on taking out the perfect amount.

How will you decide if my home needs to be covered by the Flood Re scheme?

If your home was built before 1 January 2009 and it’s in a flood risk area, you may be covered by the Flood Re scheme. You can find out via its website and see a list of insurers that have signed up to it.

How do I make a flood insurance claim?

Flooding is one of the worst things you could experience in your home. But if you’re a victim of flooding, try not to panic. It’s best to keep a cool head so you deal with it in the best possible way.

You should report any damage caused by flooding to your insurer straightaway or as soon as possible, contacting them through their emergency claims line.

Try giving your insurer as much information as you can. If you have contents and buildings insurance in place, your belongings and the structure of your home should be covered for all or at least most types of flooding.

Depending on your policy, you may also have alternative accommodation cover in place, which could now prove extremely useful if your home has been made uninhabitable through flooding!

You should take photos of any damage, and be as meticulous in recording everything that relates to your claim as possible. You’re generally not meant to remove anything from your property that has anything to do with the claim until your insurer gives you the go-ahead.

Once you’ve registered your home insurance claim, you should also ask your insurer when they expect their loss adjuster to inspect your home – just so you’re aware.

How can I check if my home is at risk of flooding?

You can find out if your home is in an area at risk of flooding by checking the relevant flood risk map online, according to where you live.

There are separate online flood risk maps for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How do I prepare for a flood?

If your home is prone to or at risk of flooding, there are some measures you can put in place to help minimise the damage:

  • Doors: installing a flood-resistant front door can dramatically reduce the chances of water entering your home.
  • Flood barriers: if flooding is imminent you can protect your doorways and windows with sand bags or barriers to reduce the risk of damage.
  • Warnings: local authorities will typically give plenty of warnings when storms are likely to hit, giving you at least some time to prepare.
  • Emergency kit: it's always a good idea to have an emergency pack at the ready to deal with bad weather situations. Include items such as: charged phone, torch, emergency phone numbers, matches and candles, food and water, and warm clothes.
  • Store valuables upstairs: this includes any important documents such as passports and insurance documents.
  • Pets: don't forget your furry friend during a flood or storm. Keep pets indoors and in a safe space.

Is my holiday home eligible?

Homes which are not residential, such as those rented out for holidays, aren’t covered by the Flood Re scheme.

Is my leasehold property eligible?

Yes, leasehold properties are eligible for Flood Re. You can find a full list of included properties at the Flood Re website.

Is the property I let out eligible?

Residential ‘buy to let’ properties are included in the Flood Re scheme. If your property meets this criteria you should be covered.

What excess do I pay for flood insurance?

The excess you pay is set when you buy insurance, and it must be paid if you make a claim. You can often choose the amount you pay, and this can directly impact the cost of your insurance.

What do insurers define as a flood?

A flood is generally viewed as being caused by an outside source, such as a river, stream, lake or tidal waters. Some insurers will also cover groundwater flooding, though not all.

Flood insurance does not cover flooding caused by burst pipes or escape of water, though these events may also be covered depending on the terms of your policy.

Coverage for damage caused by burst pipes or escape of water can vary from insurer to insurer, with some covering only the damage caused by a leak, and others also adding on trace and access insurance, which covers the cost of uncovering where the leak is coming from. 

What is groundwater flooding?

Flooding from groundwater occurs when the water table rises – it means that the level of water within the rock or soil underground has increased. If the water table rises significantly, it can reach ground level and breach the surface, causing flooding.

Groundwater flooding tends to differ from other types of flooding such as from rivers or tidal waters. It tends to be a much slower phenomenon, happening some time after heavy or prolonged rainfall.

For homeowners, it can manifest itself as water seeping through floors or basements. This can be devastating, with the cost of groundwater flooding damage potentially running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Certain parts of the country are more at risk from groundwater flooding than others, including areas with chalk or permeable bedrock. British Geological Survey says up to 290,000 properties in England are located in areas at risk of groundwater flooding.

Your home insurance will not necessarily cover groundwater flooding. So if you live in an area at risk of groundwater flooding, you should check insurance documents carefully to make sure you choose a policy that does cover this hazard.

Will my premiums rise if I claim for flood damage?

When it’s time to renew your policy, as with any type of claim, the cost of your insurance is likely to rise if you’ve made a claim for flood damage.

You could also lose your home insurance no-claims discount and you might find you have to pay a larger excess on any claims.

Insurers’ approaches can differ when it comes to flood claims and excess. It’s a competitive market, so it should be worth shopping around at renewal to get the best price for your home insurance.

If you live in an area at high risk of flooding or you’ve claimed for flood damage in the past, it’s crucial to check that any home insurance quotes you are offered do actually include cover for flooding.

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of insurers will use the Flood Re scheme to take on eligible customers living in areas at high risk of flooding.

The scheme helps keep premiums down for those at risk of flooding as well as helping to ensure that home insurance is actually available to them.

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