Half of homeowners could be at risk of flood

14 Feb, 2017

Thousands of homeowners could unknowingly be living in a high flood risk area, significantly increasing their chances of unexpected and costly damage, new analysis from home insurer Policy Expert has revealed.

Of the 5,443 people surveyed, almost half (44%) did not know whether they lived in a flood risk area. This is despite the fact that an overwhelming majority (95%) stated they wouldn’t even consider buying a home if they knew it was on a floodplain. Furthermore, one in five of those surveyed stated they would consider emigrating if they knew the weather was going to continue to get worse in the UK in the future.

Despite people’s concerns, nearly one in five (19%) admitted they wouldn’t know what steps to take to protect their home if they knew it was going to be flooded, further increasing the potential scale of damage. Half of homeowners would think to clear gutters, drains and downspouts, and move electrical equipment high above ground level if a flood was imminent. Additionally 85% of people would know to seek out and place important documents upstairs. A further 84% state they would think to source a supply of sandbags and plastic sheeting to protect their home if a flood warning was issued.

Adam Powell, Head of Operations, Policy Expert commented: “Floods can have a devastating impact and are happening more often than ever, all over the country. For that reason, it is vital homeowners are aware they could be at risk and have appropriate precautions in place.

“It’s also sensible to check you have the correct level of insurance. While most standard home insurance policies cover you for flooding, nearly all insurers expect you to know if your address or your neighbours’ has flooded in the past. A good place to find this information is on the Environment Agency website: its interactive postcode search tool will allow you to see how susceptible where you live is to flood, and how severe the risk is.

“However, what’s most important is being prepared. Being vigilant and taking precautionary steps before and after a potential flood can go a long way to mitigate the long lasting and costly damage it can cause.”


Tips on protecting your home from flood:

  1. Flood warnings– The Environment Agency, your local council and even your insurer provide a wealth of information regarding flood warnings to help you prepare. You can sign up for text, twitter and email alerts.
  2. Move your possessions upstairs– Some insurers will insist you move items upstairs as part of your policy’s terms. Whether that’s the case or not, it’s a good idea as a lot of flood damage occurs at ground level, such as to sofas, electrical and white goods and carpets.
  3. DIY protection products– Items such as window and door flood guards, airbrick covers, sand bags and other free-standing water barriers are available on the market.
  4. Clear your drains– The difference between being flooded or not can be down to your drains. Blocked drains prevent water running away, so keep them well-maintained and clear of debris.
  5. Consider placing white goods on supports– This could raise them off the floor enough to save damage occurring.
  6. Tile flooring– Tiles are much easier to clean and aren’t damaged as easily as rugs and carpet.
  7. Important documents– It’s costly to replace passports, driver’s licences and other documents so consider keeping them in water-proof bags. When a flood warning is issued, remember to move these upstairs or on top of furniture so they’re off ground level.
  8. Cars and other motor vehicles– It’s easy to forget vehicles you own in the panic of facing a possible flood. But moving cars, motorbikes, vans, trucks, ride on mowers and other vehicles to safer areas is a sensible precaution.
  9. Electric, gas and water supplies– Make sure you know how to switch these off in the event of a flood occurring.
  10. Maintain your home– You need to keep your property in a good state of repair. Many claims are rejected as its deemed water damage wouldn’t have occurred if the home had been looked after better.