Flood Insurance – are you covered?

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Recent bad weather has caused flooding in many parts of the UK and many homes, businesses and farms have been affected. Floods bring misery and hardship, but what can be done to minimise the financial costs of flood damage?

Global warming may well be responsible for the bad weather that the UK has been experiencing, bringing in heavy rain to many regions and flooding to thousands of homes and business. If this unseasonable weather is caused by climate change, then it is highly likely that the UK will experience bouts of bad weather in the future, so taking precautions to minimise the effects of flooding seems sensible.

With around two million properties and five million people residing in areas at risk from flooding, being unprepared and uninsured will have serious consequences for many people.

Water damage is expensive

Flood water damages any object it touches, rendering personal possessions unusable as they cannot be repaired. Soft furnishings such as carpets, curtains and furniture have to be replaced and larges sums spent on removing the dirty residues left by receding flood water. The high cost of replacing damaged possessions, and cleaning and redecorating costs means that insurance claims for flood damage average £20,000, which is many times larger than the average insurance claim for burglaries.

To meet high claim bills, insurance companies charge around a fifteen percent premium for houses in in flood risk areas. These premium increases could have been considerably higher if an agreement had not been reached with the Government, who have promised to increase spending on flood defences.

Maintaining insurance cover

In areas at low to medium risk of floods, buildings and contents insurance should be easy to obtain, albeit at higher premiums, however you should be aware the insurance companies keep historical flood data and study the flood risk trends, so you have to be prepared to negotiate with your insurance company to obtain the best rates.

In areas of higher risk, or where there has previously been flooding, home owners wishing to sell their properties will probably need to ensure that their existing insurance company will maintain cover for the new owners of their house. This is because other companies may be reluctant to take on the risks, in a similar way to houses situated in areas of high subsidence risk.

It may also be prudent to enlist the services of a local insurance broker who is skilled and experienced in negotiating with insurance companies in areas of high flood risk. Their services will often be free as they receive commission from the insurance company by placing your business with them.

Checking your risk of flooding

You can check your risk of flooding on the Environment Agency web site. Regional and local flood warnings are posted on their web site and you can find your risk of flooding by entering your post code here. A map of your area will be displayed overlaid with areas at risk from flooding and those areas that are protected by flood defences.

Should you be moving home or relocating your business, it is sensible to check these resources to ensure that you are not moving to a high risk area.

Not only could you suffer the inconveniences of a flood in the future, particularly if these weather patterns become more frequent, but you will almost certainly pay higher insurance premiums.

Flooding may get worse

Even though the Government is now spending £17 Million a year on improving flood defences, there are unfortunately a number of factors that make flooding more likely in the future.

Global warming is causing changes to our climate that don't just mean record temperatures, it can trigger other extremes such as strong winds and sustained periods of heavy rain, as we've seen recently.

This is a trend that is set to continue, making it more likely that we will be subject to extreme weather conditions in the future.

Building high density housing on brown field sites and land in flood plains will also contribute to greater flood risks in the future. Densely packed housing, with concrete drives and asphalt roads can disturb the natural drainage of water, triggering flash floods in periods of heavy rain.

So with a number of factors coming together to increase the risk of flooding in the future, now is the time to ensure that you are adequately insured and that if you move, that you seriously consider the flood risk in your new property.

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