What it does
Although flood damage may be covered under your buildings insurance, if you live in a high-risk area, you may want to consider taking out stand-alone flood insurance as well.
The Environment Agency have created a Flood Map (http://maps.environment-agency.gov.uk) which gives a national assessment of the likelihood of flooding. This information is used by insurers as a basis to working out premiums.
The Flood Map shows the likelihood of land being flooded, not individual properties. Even if your own home is not affected (for example you live in a third-floor flat) the local area could be – your car could be washed away, you may not be able to get into or out of your home, and your power, gas or water supplies may be interrupted.
What isn’t covered
Insurance cover against flooding is generally available for the vast majority of properties in the UK. However, insurers cannot guarantee to provide cover in all circumstances.
Clicking on your area on the Flood Map will tell you if the likelihood of your area flooding is classed by the Environment Agency’s National Flood Risk Assessment as ‘Low’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Significant’. If you live in an area classed as ‘Low’ or ‘Moderate’, then any insurer who is a member of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) will offer flood cover in the normal way on buildings and contents policies. This applies to both existing policyholders and new customers.
In areas where the likelihood of flooding is ‘Significant’, cover may depend on various issues, including what improvements are in place for permanent flood defences. However, insurers who are ABI members will endeavour to work with policyholders to continue or provide cover.
In all cases, insurance terms are set by the insurer and will reflect differing degrees of risk. There may be reasons that are not related to flood risk which mean that an insurer may choose not to offer insurance.
Keeping costs down
Insurers will generally take account of measures you have taken to reduce flood risk, such as removable household flood products, but they may want you to provide a report from an independent professional who is experienced in carrying out flood risk mitigation surveys.
The ABI and the Environment Agency have several useful guides and reports on flood insurance and flood damage.