Whilst the worst of the winter weather is over, and April so far has produced some very mild weather, it is known to be a rainy month, so it’s important to protect your home against the risk of flooding.
Protection can come in two forms. First, minimising flood impact will help ensure that your home stands the least chance of damage as possible. Secondly, suitable flood risk insurance will restrict the amount you have to pay to replace anything that is lost or damaged due to flooding.
Are you at high risk?
If you live in a top floor apartment, then clearly your risk from flooding will be minimal, if not zero. However, if you live close to a river or seafront, then you do need to carefully assess the risk of flooding to your home.
The Environment Agency have flood zone maps that you can use to help.
When it comes to assessing your risk, your property will be categorised as high, medium, low or very low.
High risk properties have a calculated 1 in 30 chance of flooding, each year. This compares to a 1 in 1000 chance for a very low risk home.
More than 5.5 million homes are expected to be at risk from flooding though, so ensure you are not one of them.
Minimise the risk of flood impact
- The first thing to do is to be aware of your risk rating. If you are a high or medium risk property then sign up to receive flood warnings, although the weather forecasts do also give a fairly good indication of what weather fronts are coming our way.
- Steps can be taken if bad weather, or torrential rain is forecast, to minimise the damage to your property and contents.
- Use sandbags or flood barriers to keep water away from entering your doors and windows
- Use flood resistant covering on air bricksRoll up carpet and rugs from the ground floor, wherever possible and store in a higher room
- Remove curtains or tie them over the curtain rail so they are off the groundUnplug electrical goods, or cover them with sealable bags
- Remove sentimental items, such as photograph albums, artwork or valuables away from any flood-risk area in the house. Lock them in waterproof containers, or ask a friend to care for them, temporarily.
- Ensure your important documents, like passports are not going to be affected.
- Switch off water, gas and electric at the mains if water is entering your home
- Disconnect washing machines and dishwashers too
- At all times, take care and contact the emergency services if you fear your personal safety
- Ensure you have adequate insurance to protect against flooding
As a home owner it is essential to have both buildings and contents insurance. This applies whether you are at low or high risk of disasters such as flooding.
Tenants need to organise their own contents insurance, but the landlord should have sufficient buildings insurance in place to cover any damage to the actual property.
Unfortunately, flood insurance claims cost insurance companies billions of pounds each year, which can force premiums upwards.
If you have a high-risk property then it could become difficult to find an insurer that will insure you for a reasonable premium.
An insurance broker can work with you to find the most appropriate insurer and the lowest premium for you.
If you need to purchase both buildings and contents insurance, using the same insurer can save a little on your premiums, usually, so this is worth considering too.
Also, if you have special features to your property, such as a thatched roof, or if it is a Listed building, specialist insurance may be required.
Discounted premiums on flood insurance
High risk properties that install any flood proofing measures may be able to obtain a discounted premium with certain insurers.
This could include:
- installing specialist doors and windows
- replacing wooden floors with concrete
- using water-resistant materials in kitchen and bathrooms
- ensuring electrical sockets are above the flood risk level
- fitting non-return valves to drains and pipes
Making a claim for flood damage
Contacting your insurance company or broker as soon as possible will help when making a claim against flooding. Some insurers have a dedicated flood phone line.
Taking photos of the damage can also help support a flood insurance claim. Do not remove items prior to the insurers assessment.
Urgent repairs to minimise further risk can be claimed by keeping the receipts and providing details as part of the claim.