When it comes to house insurance flooding is a bit of a hot topic at the moment. Over recent years the sight of villages and towns swamped in water has become all too common, and more and more people are finding they need high flood risk insurance.
Insurance flood risk areas
Around one in six of all buildings are in an area considered high risk by the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, if your house is affected, you are likely to find it difficult to get effective flood cover from a regular home insurance provider.
A deal does currently exist between the Association of British Insurers and the government which will see them provide universal coverage in return for official measures to reduce the flood risk.
Even with the current deal, there is no cap on premiums which means you may find them stretching to quite alarming levels. According to the AA Insurance excess levels can be as high as £20,000 compared with £250 on a conventional insurance policy.
While you'll struggle getting cover from a regular home insurance provider there are a number of specialist flood insurance companies that will cover properties at risk of flooding. You are likely to pay more for your policy than someone who doesn't require non standard home insurance but this is a reflection of the fact that you are more likely to make a claim.
Arguably if your property has a history of flooding or is otherwise considered to be at risk by insurers or the Environment Agency, getting cover will be a smart move. After all, your premiums are likely to be significantly less than you'd pay out for repairs and replacements should your home flood.
Am I at risk of flooding?
You can very quickly find out if you're in a high risk area by visiting the Environment Agency website and using their flood risk map. However, this does not tell the entire story. The Environment Agency map only measures those areas at risk from rivers or seas as opposed to other risks such as poor drainage.
Insurers will not only look at the Environment Agency map, but they will also conduct their own assessments when drawing up the terms for any flood contents insurance. As part of this they will look at whether there is a history of claims at the property, as well as their own flood mapping systems.
Comparing flood insurance
If you're having trouble finding adequate flood contents or buildings insurance insurance you should get quotes from a non standard insurance company or broker who specialises in difficult to insure homes. They will be able to offer more expert and personal service. You can also contact the Association of British Insurers or the Flood Forum who will be able to offer further advice.
Once you find a policy there are wide variations in what exactly is covered - does it cover garage contents for example? Many providers include exclusions, which could lead to an unpleasant surprise when the time comes to claim.
You may also need alternate accommodation if your home is rendered uninhabitable while repairs are being made. Check the policy to find out the provider's terms regarding these.
Compare quotes from a number of flood risk insurance providers and choose the policy that gives you the best cover for the lowest price.
You might also want to think about non household insurance issues. What if, for example, your car is swamped by flood water? Most car insurance providers should provide an option for this, but to get it you will probably have to take out full comprehensive cover. Check your car insurance policy to see if flood damage is covered.
Can I reduce the cost?
Inevitably, if you are at risk, then premiums will be higher, but there are precautions you can take which could reduce these.
You might install flood boards which could buy you some time to move possessions before the water rises too high. Sealing the floorboards (known as tanking) can also help, while special valves can stop sewage backing up and heightening the risk of flooding.
Making such improvements can be expensive, but many insurers may well offer substantial discounts if you've made these changes. So, although it might be difficult to find the right deal, a lot of leg work can mean that when it comes to home insurance flooding is not necessarily off limits.
You can use our Flood Insurance comparison table to find cover that protects your home.