Your home has been flooded. Naturally, you are distressed and disorientated. The last thing you want is to have doubts about the extent of your home insurance cover. This guide will take you through the variations of flood insurance, whether or not you need it, and how to go about making a claim in the event of a flood.
In this guide:
First things first, you should find out your flood risk. If you have been flooded before, then your need for flood insurance is evident. However, if you’re unsure, flood maps are easily accessible only. These identify flood risk in your area for you - simply enter your postcode and your result will be immediate. If this map alerts you to a mid to high risk of flooding, then you will need specialist flood insurance.
If you decide flood insurance is a precaution you need to take, then you can compare rates online. Alternatively, you may wish to use an insurance broker who will help you negotiate cover with insurers. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) have an easy-to-use website where you can enter your details and locate a broker specialising in flood risk. You may also opt to pay for a flood risk assessment which may make it easier to present your case to potential insurers. You should ensure that whoever is undertaking the assessment is as thorough as possible.
If you rent, it is your landlord’s responsibility to have insurance, so speak to them if you wish to know the extent of your coverage in case of a flood.
Your standard buildings insurance will typically include coverage for flood-related damage such as drying out your home, repairing fixtures such as lights, clearing debris, and professional fees for any required services, such as architect fees or legal representation.
Specialist flood insurance will extend this to allow for the repair or replacement of any affected furniture and belongings, including electrical goods, as well as covering some or all of the cost for emergency accommodation if you need to evacuate your home. It is highly recommended that you pay for this contents insurance if you live in an area prone to flooding, as the costs of recovery are so high that it will always be worth it.
The amount that it will cover accommodation differs between insurers, so you should think carefully before committing to a policy. For example, if your cover is too low you may have to contribute to the bill, or move back in before recovery is complete.
The amount your insurance company will pay out for damaged belongings again depends on the nature of your contents insurance. A ‘new for old’ policy is the most common, and recommended. Under this policy, your insurance company will replace all damaged items with new, equivalent items (except for clothes) in the case of a flood. Indemnity cover is much less comprehensive, only returning the value of your belongings prior to the flood.
Flood RE is a new home insurance scheme for those who live in a high-risk area. It is a collaboration between the government and insurers, making flood insurance more affordable for areas prone to flooding. If your home has been flooded before then it is likely you qualify. Your insurer will likely calculate your eligibility for you so you do not have to worry about a lengthy application process.
If you have been flooded, the first thing you should do, after ensuring your own safety of course, is to let your insurer know. It is recommended that you leave everything as it is, in case any attempts at recovery affect your claim. However, this is not a requirement and you can get started on cleaning or repairs before a damage assessment if you wish - just make sure to take clear photos of any damage and collect samples of damaged carpets and furnishings to show your insurer.
The more details you can record the better - measuring the depth of the water immediately after your house has been flooded will likely come in useful.
You’ll receive your claim once you and your insurer have agreed on the extent of damage.