One out of 6 homes, that is, over 5.5 million homes within England and Wales are at risk of being flooded by rivers and the sea. Floods generate chaos and leave great damage and upheaval in their wake. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) confirmed that the wet weather in 2012 caused affected approximately 8,000 homes as a result of flooding, at a cost of £400m worth of damage. Since then, the country has seen a lot more issues with flooding as the weather continues to wreak havoc. The most recent of which was Storm Denis in February 2020.
The aftermath of Storm Denis was particularly bad because the country had been hit by Storm Ciara only a week before, which had left the ground saturated. So, when Storm Denis arrived there was nowhere for all the extra water to go, which led to the highest number of flood warnings ever given by the Environment Agency.
Do I need flood insurance?
With the incidences of flooding increasing over the last few years, some properties have been prone to flood again. This has left homeowners in situations where they can no longer get insurance cover, or cover at a reasonable premium.
This led the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to launch an initiative on 4 April 2016 called Flood Re.
Flood Re is a not-for-profit fund set up by the insurance industry. It was set up to help those who live in properties in flood risk areas to get home insurance that is affordable.
The way it works is that all UK home insurance companies pay into the Flood Re scheme, the fund is then used to cover homes that are at risk of flooding.
If a homeowner needs to make a claim for flood damage, the insurance policy will cover the flood risk, however, if the amount goes over a certain limit, the insurer will pass that part of the claim to Flood Re. This will only be applicable to those who live in flood risk areas.
Is my home at risk from flooding?
The Environment Agency website, www.environment-agency.gov.uk , informs you as to whether or not your property is at risk of flooding. You just enter your postcode and the flood map highlights whether or not your property is at a low, moderate or significant risk of being flooded.
Should you live in a low risk area, the likelihood of flooding in any single year is 0.5%, increasing to 1.3%, or 1 in 75, for a property at significant risk.
The flood map just rates the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. There are of course other sources of flood, including sewers and blocked drains. So there are many more properties than 5.5 million at risk of being flooded; certain experts consider the figure to be close to 10 million.
How does an insurance company assess the risk to my home?
Insurers are wary of flood risk homes and there is no guarantee that they will offer cover for flood damage. When insurance companies assess risk they consider the flood map, additional flood sources, detailed mapping systems as well as the property's claims history.
The ABI has confirmed that it will cover all households till 2012 where the risk of being flooded from the rivers and sea is considered to be low or moderate. They are going to carry on offering flood cover to existing homes at significant risk of flooding.
This agreement excludes all properties built after 1 January 2009, although insurance companies do assess new homes on the grounds of their own merits.
This agreement does not dictate your premiums; premiums for flood prone homes can be very high, particularly if a flood claim has previously been made on the property.
If you live in a flood risk area you also need to check the excess on your policies as the excesses for flood claims can amount to thousands of pounds.
What measures can I take to protect my home from being flooded?
There are certain steps you can take to prepare your home in the event of floods and to possibly minimise water damage. You may be able to negotiate a discount on your premiums or obtain a reduced excess if you have protective measures in place.
You can attempt to prevent flood water seeping into your home by the installation of flood boards. The boards can give you some time if there is a shallow or flash flood, in order that you can move your possessions from the ground floor to limit damage.
Should the flood rise to more than about a metre, it is perhaps advisable to let the water in. Otherwise, the pressure may lead to your walls collapsing.
If you have a home that is at high risk of flooding you may wish to consider major changes to your property, however, the costs could amount to approximately £40,000.
For example, you can have the floors sealed, otherwise known as tanking, to help stop water rising up from the ground, or get a pump fitted in a void under the floor. Having a one-way valve fitted in the drainage pipe can prevent sewage from backing up into the house. Certain experts state that you should move the service meters, boiler and electrical points to above the potential flood level. Moreover, timber doors can be replaced with concrete ones and chipboard or MDF kitchen cupboards replaced with plastic ones.