Water, water everywhere

Flood and storm damage costs people more than £1 billion a year, according to the Association of British Insurers, and with forecasts of increasing risk of flooding over the foreseeable future this is one issue householders cannot afford to ignore.

We review your options when it comes to protecting your home against further foul weather.

Know the risks

Flooding doesn’t just happen to people who live in valleys, by riverbanks or the sea. Torrents of rain can overflow drains and course down hills, while surface water can pool around houses that are high above sea level, meaning anyone whose front door is at ground level is at risk.

Get properly insured

Flood damage is normally covered under home insurance policies. But it’s best to check what exclusions are in place and bear in mind any additional excesses that may be applied in relation to flooding.

The flood element of home insurance will tend to cover the following:

  • Drying out, repairing and restoring items of property
  • Removing debris
  • Associated fees, such as legal, surveyor, builder, carpenter and architect costs
  • Alternative accommodation – while the home is being fixed.

However, home insurance may not cover everything. Most home insurance policies will cover a basic level of accidental damage protection, however if you want more comprehensive protection you may need to pay an additional premium. Some policies will replace affected items on a ‘new for old’ basis, so you’ll get a new model of the same specification if your TV is damaged.

Other policies operate on an indemnity basis. This means your insurer takes into account the age of your damaged possessions. So, if your £2,000 carpet needs replacing it will take into account the years of wear and tear, and offer to pay a sum that would cover the current cost of a replacement carpet, which will be less than you originally paid.

Preventing floods

King Canute tried to hold back the tides and failed, and despite the best efforts of modern equivalents – such as the Environment Agency – natural forces still impose their will. That said, there are some steps you can take to avoid flood damage. These include blocking ground-floor doors with sandbags or plastic bags filled with soil, removing items such as TVs and furniture to upper floors, and arranging for friend to take frozen or refrigerated food.

These actions depend on you having time to act. If a flood is imminent, ensure you cut off the power to your home via the main fuse switch. This may stop undue damage to ovens, fridges and other items you can’t move in time.

Keep alert

Wherever you live it’s a good idea to check the relevant government flood map for which region of the UK you live in. These sites give advice on predicted adverse weather, and offer further advice on how to protect your home from flooding, for example raising power points and using relatively-flood resistant home materials, such as vinyl flooring.

If the worse happens

If your home is flooded you will need to take photos of all damage, and as distressing as it may be, not make reparations until your insurer says you can. The changes are they will want to send round a loss assessor first, so bear with them.

Getting insurance after a flood

Your current insurer is legally obliged to offer you continuing home insurance, but your new premium may be high. If you may have trouble getting insurance after a flood, so speak to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (0870 950 1790).

All information accurate at time of publication.

Money Advice Service

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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