A Guide to Building and Contents Policy Excesses
18th September 2019

As the year draws to its ending months, the weather worsens, leaving many home owners in the UK dealing with the consequences of the damage it causes. 2015-2016 saw the worst years for flooding on record and insurance claims rose as a result of the homes affected. Flooding in the home can not only damage home contents – sofas, carpets, televisions etc but the fixtures and fittings and the structure of the property itself, meaning the cost of repairs can be sky high.

Although certain regions are more susceptible to being affected by floods than others, it really can happen anywhere if the weather is bad enough. The most common cause for flooding is rivers bursting their banks after periods of heavy rain. In southern areas near the sea, high tides also present risk. And even in areas not known to flooding; ‘surface water flooding’, typically caused by flash floods that follow thunderstorms can cause devastating affects to housing as it bursts through the doors. As stated on ‘OntheMarket.com’, The Environment Agency has calculated that around one in six properties in this country are at some form of risk from flooding which may seem a lot higher than you first imagined.

So how can you check to see if you are at risk? Flood risk maps and government websites allow home owners to enter their postal codes to see if they are likely to become affected by flooding, customers are often unaware and can be shocked at the consequences after a flood has ripped through their property. Regions on these websites are often rated from low to high flood risk areas, depending on their proximity to watercourses, rivers, canals, the sea etc. Local estate agents and solicitors (if buying or selling a property) can also help determine whether flooding is likely or has happened previously in the area or home.

Government Long Term Flood Risk Check

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/map

Customers that have been victim to floods in previous years have found insuring their property and contents in recent years significantly difficult as many insurers refuse to cover or offer exceptionally high premiums.  ‘Flood Re’, the recent flooding scheme was established to cover properties that have previously been affected by capping premiums and making homes insurable again. Other insurers may also offer cover to properties for standard perils but exclude flooding altogether or finally, may have excesses of £500 upwards if a flood claim was to arise. If you are taking out or renewing a policy, it is important you understand whether flood is covered as well as considering having the policy benefit of alternative accommodation included – which will look to re-house you if your property becomes inhabitable.

Preventative measures can be taken to protect properties. Compare the Market suggests these include having sandbags at the ready and installing flood doors to prevent water coming in. Raising electrical sockets on the wall can also help as well as keeping a stash of bricks and pallets so that, in the event of a flood, you can raise furniture off the floor. Removable barriers and temporary seals for windows, doors and air vents can again prove affective when floods are imminent. In higher flood risk areas, home owners often install one-way valves to toilets and pipes to prevent sewage backing up into the house and tend to move valuables upstairs, or put them in waterproof bags when wet weather hits. While an insurance policy can replace damaged items, some items, like family heirlooms and old photo albums, are irreplaceable so it can be advised, to place these items in attics or lofts and avoid keeping any furniture in basements and cellars that could get damaged.

If you are worried or unsure of whether your home insurance policy covers you for flooding or want to know more, then it is always best to speak to your insurer who will be able to advise you further. By being savvy and preparing yourself and your home in the upcoming winter months, you could prevent significant damage and not face costly expenses to replace contents or restore your home.

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