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Risky Business – is your home at risk of flooding?
Fewer than 1 in 3 people say they investigated flood risks before buying their home. As we head to the Cumbria Flood Expo 2017, The Insurance Centre examines why water damage should be a top priority…
Home is where the heart is… not to mention all of your hard-earned furniture, technology, and reams of valuable personal possessions. Nothing could be more devastating than a bout of adverse weather flooding your house, causing devastating damage to both property and possessions. Yet a recent study by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed that fewer than one in three people researched the flood risk of the property before buying their current home.
The insurance industry hopes to raise buyers’ awareness of flood risks by introducing a set of traffic light-style green, amber and red symbols on property adverts, aiming to inform or warn buyers of the properties’ status before they buy. It has been predicted that one in six properties would be labelled amber or red.
Unsurprisingly, this idea is less than desirable to estate agents, who have voiced fears that potential buyers may be put off from viewing those properties deemed at risk, and possibly rendering a section of the market unprofitable.
However, the proposal may be a positive step towards raising awareness and motivating homeowners to protect their properties. In order to provide full and accurate cover, insurers need to assess the likelihood of incidence and severity. Although flood insurance usually forms part of buildings and contents insurance policies, areas at risk of flooding will likely have much higher premiums or need specialist cover.
Last year, extensive flooding across Northern England topped £5bn worth of damage, with up to £1.5bn insurance claims made as a result. Director of general insurance at the ABI, James Dalton, said: “As the floods of last winter reminded us, being flooded is horribly traumatic and can leave people out of their home or business for months. Anyone whose property is at flood risk needs to be aware of that, so they can take steps to protect themselves.”
Considering whether that seemingly perfect new property is on a floodplain is often not at the forefront of buyers’ minds. Purchasing a house is an exciting time, and with plenty to sort out it often gets forgotten, unless it gets flagged during searches.
So what can you do to make sure your home is safe? Whether or not you feel your home is at risk of flood damage, checking the flood terms of your home insurance is vital to understanding whether you would be covered should it happen. Remember, obvious bodies of water are not the only clue to look out for – in fact, the Environment Agency estimates that there are 5.2 million properties at risk of flooding in England from either rivers, the sea, surface water or various combinations.
Read your policy documents to ensure you know what you can and can’t claim for. You may be able to get damaged items replaced or be helped with the cost of builders and professional clean-up services. Before the loss adjuster visits your property, it may be a good idea to take photographs and video of the flood damage and list details of what’s been affected.
If you are currently buying a house, make sure you do as much research as possible into the property and area beforehand. The Environment Agency provides flood risk information broken down by postcode on its website. A broker, such as The Insurance Centre, could offer a helping hand should you find that your insurance needs might be a little more complicated as a result.