Insurance guidance for householders
Having your home flooded can be financially and emotionally draining. Read on for the basics of home insurance as well as tips on keeping your property protected.
Select a section below:
How to access insurance for your property at risk of flooding
To get insurance for your home/contents, you can either approach insurance companies yourself or use an insurance broker.
Comparison websites can sometimes suggest good deals. However, they do not include all insurers. Also, they do not usually cater for people in unusual circumstances, so if you have a particularly expensive home or a thatched roof, for example, it may be worth speaking to a broker instead.
What if I can’t get insurance?
If you want insurance but are struggling to find it, you might want to contact an insurance broker. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is a not-for-profit trade body who provide a free “Find a broker” service. Brokers will be able to access markets for standard or non-standard property insurance.
Remember, too, that insurance is not the only way of reducing your vulnerability to flooding. It might make sense to install flood protection measures and/or refurbish your home in a way that reduces the damage the next time there is a flood.
Flood Re is a flood re-insurance scheme which helps to make insurance more widely available for homes (built before 2009) in higher flood risk areas. FloodRe works in the background with insurers to simply the process of getting insurance, so you make not actually see that FloodRe is supporting your insurance if you fall within one of these high-risk zones. To find out more about how FloodRe works, or to see if Flood Re would be applicable for your property, visit www.floodre.co.uk.
What does flood insurance offer the homeowner?
Home insurance can assist a homeowner by:
- paying towards any repairs your home needs if it is flooded
- paying towards the replacement of possessions that are damaged in a flood
- paying for the costs of living elsewhere while your home is dried out and repaired (e.g. costs of rented or alternative accommodation and additional travel)
Home insurance may not:
- compensate for any distress you or other household members experience because of a flood
- pay for any loss of income you might experience through having to deal with the flood
- pay for any improvements to be made to your home or for your home to be reinstated in a more flood-resilient manner
- You can insure the building that you live in, the contents of your home, or both
- Buildings insurance – covers the building structure and anything that is permanently attached to the structure of the home (e.g. fitted kitchens and skirting boards). If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will probably insist you have this insurance. If you are renting your home, your landlord is usually responsible for buildings insurance.
- Contents insurance – covers anything that is not permanently attached to the structure of the home. Some contents policies also cover possessions kept in outbuildings or in the garden area attached to the house.
Tips for getting insurance
- Decide what cover you need
Do you need buildings cover, contents cover or both?
- Understand the cost of rebuilding your home in the event of a flood
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have created a cost calculator which allows homeowners to get a rough idea of the rebuild cost of your home. You can access this service, along with some additional guidance documents, here.
- Take stock of what you have in your home
The policy may require you to estimate the replacement cost of your belongings in order to select the amount of cover. Expensive items may need to be listed separately on your policy.
- BIBA has worked closely with DEFRA, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to produce the guide, Obtaining Flood Insurance in high risk areas.
This guide aims to provide, in one place, information that will help those that find it difficult to access flood insurance cover to obtain a suitable policy. It explains how to get specialist help and what information you may be asked to give, provides tips on how to reduce the impact of flooding and the last section of the guide provides useful information on key organisations – their responsibilities and contact details and relevant websites.
- Consider investing in a flood risk mitigation survey
- Sign up to the Environment Agency’s flood warnings direct
- Check comparison sites and online insurers
Take a look at comparison sites but make sure that you are comparing policies with the features that you need (for example, an acceptable excess and comparable range of insured risks). Some insurers do not feature on comparison sites, so you may want to approach them directly.
- Read the specimen policy documents carefully before you commit
This will help you really understand what is and what isn’t covered by the policy. Once you have taken out the policy make sure that you keep a record of any changes to the terms, and perform any obligations that the policy places on you (e.g. keeping windows locked, setting the burglar alarm, turning off the water when you leave the property unoccupied)
Making a flood claim
What do I do if I need to claim after a flood?
Following a flood, you should speak to your insurer or broker as soon as possible. It is useful to have your insurance documents to hand when you call, so that you can refer to them during the conversation.
Do not throw away damaged items until you are told to do so by your insurance company. This will allow you to provide evidence of damage when completing your insurance claim. Our ‘Cleaning up after a flood’ section offers tips for recording flood damage.
It is also a good idea to make a note of the time the floodwater entered your home and of characteristics of the flooding such as:
- Where you think the water came from
- Where floodwater entered your home
- How long the water was in your home
- The depth of the flooding in your home
If you have emergency repairs done that have not been sanctioned by the insurer, ensure you keep the receipts for this work. Avoid going ahead with any pre-claim flood repairs, unless these are absolutely necessary. You should inform your insurer of these works as soon as possible.
Who will be involved in my claim?
Several organisations and individuals might be involved in processing your flood claim. Zurich insurance provides guidance that outlines the roles of some of these individuals. For more information about who will be involved in your claim and what their roles are, contact your insurer.
The insurer will arrange a three-step clean-up process for a flooded property
- Remove water and mud
A third party contractor will remove floodwater out of your home. This may be followed by a wet/dry vacuum.
- Clean and disinfect
Your home will be cleaned and then disinfected (to deal with floodwater contaminants such as sewage). This helps to reduce the risk of mould, mildew and infections.
Drying out can take weeks or even months. If completed too quickly, it can cause damage to the property’s structure.
How to reduce the cost of flood insurance
Property flood resilience (PFR) measures
If you live in a flood risk area you may want to consider using property flood resilience measures. These can reduce the damage caused to your house and contents when there is a flood, and can sometimes lead to reduced insurance premiums. Further information about the types of measures you can use, and whether you might be eligible for a grant to help pay for this. Information on what grant funding is available for your region of the UK can be accessed through our website.
Using an insurance broker
If you can’t find affordable insurance, you could ask an insurance broker for advice. See the “what if I can’t get insurance” section for more information.
Additional ways to reduce the cost of flood insurance
The following can also help reduce the cost:
- Properly value your contents and rebuild cost (note that the rebuild cost is not the same as the sale value of your home). For more information, see the “Tips for getting insurance” section.
- Consider increasing your excess
Here are several additional resources that may be useful and provide additional information about getting and using flood insurance:
Below are several organisations that can offer additional assistance and advice on flooding:
- Environment Agency
See areas at risk of flooding in England and Wales, and sign up for flood warnings
- British Insurance Brokers Association
A not-for-profit trade body who can assist with finding brokers for flood insurance through their “Find a broker” service. BIBA also have several additional insurance guides available here on their website.
- National Flood Forum
Wide-ranging support for those at risk of flooding, including guidance on obtaining insurance in high risk areas
- Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Read about the “Rebuild cost calculator” tool and guidance from the ABI
- British Damage Management Association
Download a free suite of documents to support flood victims
- Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
See areas in Scotland at risk of flooding and sign up for flood warnings
You can also take a look at our Additional resources section of the FloodGuidance website.