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Flooding

It is currently estimated that in excess of 2 million homes in the UK are at risk from flooding, representing approximately 10% of the total housing stock.

In the future coastal and inland flooding problems may be set to worsen with the rising sea levels and increasing winter rainfall predicted by many climate change experts. Whats more, the constant pressure to build more houses may result in increased building in known flood risk areas.

In our large towns and cities up to 50% of flooding problems arise from the sewerage system. Many of the nation's sewers date from the Victorian era and are now inadequate for the demands placed upon them by increased housing density.

Consumers in the UK are fortunate that insurance for flooding is offered as standard with home insurance policies for this is not always the case in other countries. However, with the increasing pressure on the insurance industry caused by recent sharp rises in claims, many homeowners are increasingly worried that at some point they could find their homes more difficult and expensive to insure, or even experience the nightmare of an uninsurable property.

Currently, as a result of negotiations between the UK government and the insurance industry, insurers will continue to provide flood cover for existing homeowners so long as flood defences are in place. Homes in high-risk areas can be insured where plans to improve or build adequate flood defences within the next five years are in place. Where an insurance policy covers a property in a high-risk area, this policy will be transferable when the house is sold to new owners. Clearly, you must check this with the insurer.

In 2008 the Environment Agency is set to introduce a revised flood map of the UK. This will now include areas at risk of flooding caused by inadequate drainage. Potentially this could double the number of homes included. Homes deemed at high risk of flooding could face increased premiums and higher excesses from insurers. A typical claim for flood damage under a home insurance policy would be in the region of 30,000. If, for example insurers raised the excess for homes in the newly affected high risk areas to a similar amount, policy holders would effectively be paying for the cost of flood damage themselves.

Flooding from drains is known as pluvial flooding and is caused by intense or prolonged rainfall that overwhelms the capacity of the drainage system to cope with the volume of water. Pluvial flooding can be differentiated from fluvial flooding (of rivers and watercourses) and coastal flooding.

The likely incidence of pluvial flooding can be lessened by the adoption of certain preventative measures. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the fitting of non-returnable valves on the drains which should prevent sewage surges. Specialist flood insurance providers can advise on the best way to protect your home from pluvial flooding and also reduce your premiums.

In the event of a flood it will be vital to have your insurance details to hand; store them in a safe place which is easy to remember. Top tips in the event of a flooding emergency that insurers would recommend include turning off the mains water, gas and electricity supplies; placing sandbags outside the house at the bottoms of doors, windows and airbricks; and safely moving as much of your property as you can to upper floors to prevent water damage.

Following a flood, all damage to the building and its contents must be reported to the insurance company. It is a good idea to take photographs of all the damage and to keep any damaged articles until the claim is settled. Mains water, gas and electricity services must not be reconnected until checked by a qualified engineer. No redecorating work can be carried out until the house has completely dried out; opening doors and windows will help to ventiliate and dry the house.

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