Cutting the costs of flood damage

With last summer's flooding chaos still fresh in the memory, the recent tidal surge along the east coast served as another stark warning that we all need to be aware of the risks of flooding. In this article we advise you on how to protect your home and minimise the costs of flooding.

Experts have confirmed that if water levels had risen just another nine inches during Thursday's tidal surge, it would have been a catastrophe for England's east coast. And with the frequency of such events likely to increase in the future, now is the time to take action to protect your property.

The first thing you should do is to ensure that your property and its contents are properly insured, especially if you live on the east coast.

“Homeowners whose properties are at risk must have good-quality home insurance. Doing so ensures they will continue to be covered regardless of what happens in the future,” says Richard Mason, director of insurance at

“My advice is to have a policy with a well known insurer, such as Norwich Union or Halifax, that are less likely to withdraw cover if your situation deteriorates. People should check the details of what their buildings and contents policies cover as well as the limits and excesses on both.”

Unfortunately, the events of the last six months will have pushed the price of good home insurance up. However, it is essential that you have a policy that will protect you against the cost of flood damage no matter where you live.

However, you should also do what you can to protect your home against flooding. If you live in a high risk area make sure that you keep an ear out for local flood warnings. According to the Environment Agency, there are three different kinds of flood warning:

  • Severe Flood Warning – Severe flooding is expected. There is extreme danger to life and property. Take action immediately!
  • Flood Warning – Flooding of homes and businesses is expected. Take action immediately!
  • Flood Watch – Flooding of low lying land and roads is expected. Be careful!

Even if you have good home insurance, your insurer will expect you to do what you can to minimise the cost of the flood damage. If you hear a flood warning in your area, move all expensive items that you can carry upstairs or take them somewhere dry.

If you are in a high risk area, it may also be a good idea to think about what else you can do to protect your home and come up with an emergency flood plan to protect you and your family. Here are some basic steps you can take:

  • Turn off electricity, water and gas at the mains. And plug all sinks and weigh down with something heavy.
  • Stop water from entering your home. You can use silicone sealant on windows and doors, or you could use sandbags.
  • Take everything you can upstairs. Appliances, smaller items of furniture, and even carpets and curtains.
  • Make sure all your important documents are kept in a sealed plastic bag as high up as possible.
  • Move your car to higher ground and make sure that anything outside that might float away, such as garden furniture, is tied down.

You can get more detailed information on how you can minimise the risks of flood damage at the Environment Agency's website. The Agency also has a 24-hour Floodline you can call at 0845 988 1188 for flood warnings and advice.

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