How to Protect Your Home from Flooding
A flooded house is any homeowner’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s only likely to be a more regular experience for many, as the UK government reports intense bouts of flooding is predicted to become more frequent. With this in mind, it’s extremely important you prepare for the worst, especially for those homeowners who live in areas vulnerable to regular flooding. Whether it’s ensuring you have the right house insurance or structure your house with flooding in mind, there are things that you can do to make sure you don’t get caught out.
In this guide:
- Make sure you have buildings and content insurance
- Home insurance for flood-prone areas
- Preparing for a flood
- Making a flood insurance claim
Firstly, make sure you have up to date buildings and contents insurance. Buildings insurance will make sure your property is structurally protected. Meanwhile, your contents insurance will ensure anything damaged inside your property is covered. Flood insurance should come as standard with your home insurance policy, it will cover the cost of any damage that occurred during a flood (flooding being a natural occurrence like a burst riverbank as opposed to a burst pipe).
It’s an understandable concern for homeowners in areas prone to flooding how much their insurance will be or if they will be covered at all. However, there is a joint scheme between the government and the insurance industry called Flood Re which keeps costs down for homeowners in high-risk areas. Your insurer will pay out for the damages that you have incurred and then the government reimburses the insurer. However, if you are part of the Flood Re scheme you will need to pay a £250 excess fee for any damage or loss claim.
To find out if you are in an area vulnerable to flooding you can put your postcode into the government website’s flood map.
If your home is prone to flooding, there are adaptations you can make to reduce the damage:
- Ensure all power sockets and wiring is at least 1.5m above floor level
- Consider flood-proofing floors and window frames, avoid carpets or vinyl floors and use sealed wood, concrete or ceramic tiles instead.
- Use water-resistant sealant on outside walls, doors and window frames
- Investing in flood skirts will also be beneficial, fitted around a building they come into use when flooding is likely. You can also fit one-way, no-return valves which will stop water coming into your house at points of entry such as water outlet pipes.
- Maintain any drains on your property
- Turn off water, gas and electricity supplies, and seek advice from your suppliers
- Always keep valuable items upstairs
- Have a flood kit bag ready which includes waterproof trousers, wellies and rubber gloves. Flood water is dirty, and you need to protect yourself from coming into contact with it. This kit should also include medical bag, bottled water, dry food, and clean clothes.
- Double-check your policy, what are you covered for? Have you read all the terms and conditions? Do you live in a flood-prone area?
Tell your insurer as soon as possible, the process of claiming on insurance because of flooding is a time-consuming process. It could take years for all the damage to be restored as the house will need to be completely dried, so as soon as you tell your insurer the quicker the damage can be assessed. Make sure you document everything, take pictures and videos as well as recording the depth of the water flooding your home.
As tempting as it might be to start fixing things yourself, try to resist as it’s best to wait for the insurer to come and assess the damage to find out exactly what you’re entitled to. If you start fixing things this may affect your claim.
It’s also worth considering whether you want to make a claim at all. You may have to pay an excess of a few hundred pounds (for example if you make a claim as part of the Flood Re scheme) and if the damage isn’t that bad, you could just pay to have the damage fixed yourself. Although you may think this is a stress you don’t want to deal with, covering the cost yourself will ensure your no claims bonus is not affected and keep the cost of your policy down in the future.