What is flood insurance?
Most buildings insurance policies cover flood damage up to the rebuild value of your home.
You can also cover your belongings because most contents insurance policies will protect your things against flood damage.
That means if your home is destroyed by a flood you can claim on your home insurance policy to pay for the necessary repairs, and replace your personal possessions.
This is how much it would cost to rebuild your home from scratch, and is not the same as the market value of your property.
This guide explains how to work out the rebuild value of your home.
You may need to claim for flood damage in the event of coastal flooding caused by storms or a high tide, surface or groundwater flooding as a result of heavy rain, or a river bursting its banks following high rainfall.
What does it cover?
Your home insurance can cover the costs of:
Repairing your property
Drying out your home
Removing any debris brought into your home by flood water
Alternative accommodation if your home is uninhabitable
Replacing or fixing your belongings, including furniture
Is your home at risk from flooding?
If you are unsure whether your home is at risk from flooding you can check by using a flood risk map.
Different government agencies are responsible for issuing flood maps depending on where you live:
England and Wales: The Environment Agency maintains a detailed flood risk map.
Scotland: The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) publishes a selection of flood maps.
Northern Ireland: The Department of the Environment (DOE) maintains a strategic flood map.
The GOV.UK website can also help you find out if you are at risk from flooding.
Check before you buy a new home
If you are buying a new home it is worth checking to see if the property is in a flood area and how likely you are to suffer flood damage.
You should check the flood maps, and you can also:
Speak to locals: Speak with the owners of neighbouring properties to find out if there has been any flooding in the past and contact the local authority to check if they hold council records relating to flooding in the area.
Ask a flood risk consultant: They can give you more details on the level of risk you will face, where water will come from, and how long flooding could last. This service could cost hundreds of pounds so only ask a consultant for help if you are really concerned.
Can you get insurance in a flood risk area?
Yes you should be able to find an affordable policy even if your home is susceptible to flooding, although some insurers may be unwilling to cover you.
This is down to an agreement between the UK government and the insurance industry called Flood Re.
What is Flood Re?
It is an insurance scheme launched in April 2016 that aims to ensure homeowners and residents living in high flood risk areas can find affordable flood insurance.
UK home insurance companies pay into a collective fund that is used to offset the costs of flood damage. To be eligible your home must meet the following criteria:
Have a Council Tax band A to H
Be used for residential purposes
Have been built before 1st January 2009
Be in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
How does Flood Re work?
Flood Re is funded by a £180m levy each year paid by all UK home insurance companies.
The premiums charged to home insurers will be capped based on the council tax band of the property being insured, starting at £210 per year for homes in Bands A and B rising to £1,200 for homes in Band H.
It is up to each insurer whether this cost is passed onto policy holders in the form of increased premiums.
These extra funds are put to one side to offset the cost of repairing flood damage when it occurs and ensure that the flood insurance cap is affordable for the insurance industry.
How to claim for flood damage
As soon as your property becomes flooded you should contact your insurer immediately. They can advise how you should proceed, and some will have a dedicated flood helpline you can call for advice.
Your insurer may arrange for a loss adjuster to visit your property to assess the damage and work out what repairs or replacements are needed.
If there are emergency issues that need to be sorted immediately let your insurer know. They may:
Let you arrange the repairs yourself and reimburse the cost
Arrange the repairs for you before the loss adjuster's visit
Questions to ask your insurer
When the loss adjuster will come to survey your property
If the insurance company will organise and pay for cleaning and redecorating
Who will be the insurance company's point of contact for your claim
Where to find alternative accommodation, and your budget, if you are evacuated
What you should and should not do yourself when cleaning your property
If you rent your home, make sure your landlord contacts their buildings insurance provider to make the claim for you.
If your personal belongings have been damaged, do not remove or replace any items until you have spoken your insurer.
List all of the flood damage caused, and take photos and video showing the highest water mark to back up your claim.