It’s so important to understand flood insurance. You’ve worked hard for the home that you’ve made for yourself and your family and it’s paramount that you are protected. The following steps might help make understanding your insurance a little easier. And, if you’re ever concerned about any part of your policy or cover, discuss this with your insurance provider until you’re comfortable.
Find out all you can about the flood risk affecting your property. The Environment Agency’s Flood Map for England and Wales is published online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk. There is also a 24 hour Floodline service on 08459 881 188. You could also get some useful information from your local Environmental Agency office, Local Authority or your Water Company.
Your insurer should have access to important information, such as the flood risk probability data (National Flood Risk Assessment), which is available to companies who are members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
The National Flood Risk Assessment determines the likelihood of flooding from all rivers with a catchment size greater than three square kilometres, and all flooding from the sea (both along open coast and tidal estuaries). Rivers with smaller catchments are also included in the assessment, where they are within the area that could be affected by an extreme flood from a larger river.
Flood defences and river channels can provide a level of flood protection to your area. The Environment Agency generally knows the standard of protection of flood defences, but this does not necessarily reflect the likelihood of flooding at any particular point behind that defence.
Make use of the internet to get as much information as you can, particularly by becoming familiar with the Environment Agency website. This information is free of charge and is available to everyone but there will be an administration cost if you require the Environment Agency to find out any specific information relating to the area your property is in and provide a written response.
Find out whether the Environment Agency has plans to build or improve flood defences in your area by checking with your insurer (if they are an ABI member) or by calling Floodline on 08459 881 188.
If you do live in a flood risk area, insurers will cover you, but they CANNOT GUARANTEE to provide cover in all circumstances. You should discuss this directly with your insurance provider.
If the flood risk to your home is considered by the agency to be ‘Low’ or ‘Moderate’ (find this out via the Flood Risk Assessment), insurers who are ABI members will offer flood cover in the normal way on buildings and contents policies to homeowners and small businesses. This applies to both existing policy holders and to new customers.
Until July 2013, in areas classified within the Assessment where the likelihood of flooding from rivers or the sea is ‘Significant’ and where defences will be built or improved within five years, insurers who are ABI members will also continue to provide cover to existing policyholders. In areas where the likelihood of flooding is ‘Significant’, where there are no improvements in flood defences planned and the annual chance of flooding is likely to be once in 75 years, insurers will not guarantee to provide cover in all cases. Insurers will use their best efforts to work with policyholders to establish, on a case-by-case basis, what action they, The Environment Agency, the Local Authority or Water Company could do to enable cover to be continued.
Insurers should take into consideration the measures you have taken yourself to reduce flood risk. This could include barriers, such as Flodam’s Door and Air Brick Guards, and other measures such as the use of alternative construction materials which reduce damage if the house is flooded.
Some insurers may want you to provide a report from an independent professional who is experienced in carrying out flood risk mitigation surveys, such as members of an appropriate chartered institution (Chartered Institution of Civil Engineers, Association of Building Engineers, etc).