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Flood insurance

Compare flood insurance quotes to protect your home against flood risk

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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.

Home insurance for flood risk areas

You can still arrange comprehensive home insurance if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

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, you could potentially benefit from this non-profit joint initiative between the 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.

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance should be included as standard in most buildings and contents insurance policies.

Buildings insurance will cover the structural part of your property, as well as damage to permanent fixtures caused by flooding. This includes the cost of drying your home out after a flood and removing the debris. It should also provide alternative accommodation if you cannot live in your home while repairs are being carried out.

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

This means to ensure your home is properly protected from flooding, it's a good idea to have both types of insurance, either as a combined policy or separate policies from different insurers.

The exact specifics of your flood insurance will depend on the policy you buy. This is why, if you live in a flood risk area, that you compare policies carefully before you buy.

How much does flood insurance cost?

Flood risk properties can be more expensive to insure, but the introduction of the Flood Re scheme has bought costs down considerably.

The cost of flood insurance will depend on a whole range of factors. In addition to the flood risk of your property, your insurance company will also consider:

  • The size and type of your property
  • Where you live
  • Your occupation
  • The value of your belongings
  • The rebuild value of your home

When you buy insurance, whether that’s a combined or separate policy, you’ll be asked a range of different questions. The insurance company will use this information to calculate your insurance costs.

It's important you answer all questions truthfully, otherwise your policy may be invalidated if you ever come to claim.

Do I need flood insurance?

If you live in an area that is at risk of flooding, it's important to have flood insurance.

Flood insurance is included as part of buildings and contents insurance.

If you are buying your home with a mortgage, your lender is unlikely to release your funds, without evidence that buildings insurance is in place.

However, even if you own your home outright it is still prudent to have buildings insurance. Consider just how much it would cost to repair your home in the event of a flood?

According to the ABI, after Storm Dudley in February 2022, insurers paid out £473m for damage to property, across 169,500 claims. Estimates also suggest that a further £2.2m was spent providing temporary accommodation for people who weren't able to live in their homes while repairs were carried out.

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.

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What do I need to get a quote?

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.

What is groundwater flooding?

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.

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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. This is especially important as we get into the winter months.

It’s important to know that flood insurance doesn’t cover flooding caused by burst pipes or an escape of water. Make sure you prepare your home for winter to reduce the risk of this happening.

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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