Flood Damage Guide

Flooding can cause extensive damage to homes, causing serious problems to both the exterior and interior of a property. When a house floods, it can occur quickly and with very little warning - and water damage can leave a home needing significant repairs.

This guide will look at ways of tackling flood damage, including how you can approach claiming for damp damage on your home insurance.

Contents:

What is Flood Damage?
Why do I need Flood Damage Cover?
What is covered?
Where are the flood risk areas in the UK?
Protecting your home from Water Damage
What to do after a flood?
Flood and Water Damage - FAQs

What is Flood Damage?

Flood damage occurs when water enters a property. You may think such damage happens after a bout of extreme weather, when heavy rain has caused rivers to overflow and levels of water to rise, but flood damage isn't exclusively caused by a sudden force of nature; water escaping from inside a property can also cause a flood, like a pipe bursting. If a room in a property has previously been watertight but has started to let water in, it can be considered flooding.

It's also possible for a property to suffer flood damage without water even entering it. If a flood has been so forceful that it has made a building's structure unstable - by washing away earth, for example - then that could be considered flood damage.

Why do I need Flood Damage Cover?

Flooding is on the increase in the UK, with parts of the country experiencing record levels of rainfall in recent years, and so the risk of water damage and flooding damage is expected to remain high. Flood damage cover is often included as part of your home insurance - at the RAC, floods and escape of water from burst pipes is covered as standard – your insurance provider may be different and this will be stated in your policy documents.

Depending on the severity of the water damage, you might need to replace items of furniture, clothing and other belongings, or even need alternative accommodation in the worst of cases. Flood damage cover can help to meet such costs.

Get a quote for RAC Home Insurance here

What is Covered?

Home insurance policies will generally apply the following exclusions when it comes to what is and isn't covered in terms of flood damage:

  • Loss or damage to fences, gates and hedges
  • Loss or damage caused by a gradual rise in the level of ground water
  • Loss or damage to contents in the open

Typically, these are the main exclusions - but check with your insurer where flood damage cover is concerned.


Where are flood risk areas in the UK?

Some parts of the UK are considered at higher risk of flooding than others; towns in some coastal areas and close to rivers, for example. The situation can change quickly however, and the Environmental Agency - which estimates that 5.5 million properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding from either the sea, surface water or rivers - has a great resource. Its Flood Information Service allows you to view the current flood situation, the five-day flood risk, the latest river and sea levels near you, and your property's long term risk of flooding. You can also sign up to flood warnings so you can at least be prepared if your area is at risk of flooding.


Protecting your home from water damage

If you live near a flood risk area and consider your property at imminent risk of flooding, there are steps you can take to start protecting your home from water damage. Effective ways of preventing or reducing flood damage include:

  • Positioning sandbags in front of doors at the property, including any garage doors, to prevent water entering the house.
  • Putting valuable belongings on high shelves or storing them in a safe place to minimise the chances of them being damaged by water.
  • Making a plan for somewhere else to stay if the flooding damage is severe.
  • Reviewing how to turn off utilities - electricity, gas and water.
  • Fixing flood boards to window frames and doors - these act as a barrier to floodwater.
  • Fitting plastic covers over any airbricks to prevent water from getting through.

Does your home insuance include flood damage cover? RAC Home Insurance is Defaqto 5 Star rated

 

What to do after a flood?

There are a number of actions you could consider following a flood. These include:

Be cautious - if the flood was serious enough to force you to leave your property, you don't know what you'll find on your return. If the water is deep you may not be able to see what's beneath the surface, which could include sewage or foreign objects.

Turn the electricity off at the mains. If you didn’t do this before leaving the property and the power was then lost due to the flood, a sudden surge of power could be dangerous. 

Call your home insurance company to inform them of the flood. 

Check your property for any signs of damage that might need professional assistance to repair, for example, cracks or bulges in the walls, or changes to the structure.

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Flood and Water Damage - FAQs

If your home has been flooded, the first call you need to make is to your home insurance provider to inform them of the situation. An exception to this is if something has been hurt or injured and requires medical treatment. You might also need to inform your local water company if there are burst water mains or blocked sewers, or your local council to report any instances of flooded roads. If the flooding is extensive, all parties will probably already be aware of it, but don't assume that they are. The Environment Agency need to know about fallen trees, damage to river banks and so on.

 
How to clean up water damage

The task of cleaning up following water damage to your property can be a lengthy process, especially in cases of serious flooding. The property will require drying, cleaning and in many cases repairing which with the appropriate cover in place, will be managed by your insurer. Damage caused to a property will differ in severity and your insurer will advise of the next steps in terms of assessment of the damage, the clean-up process and any requirement for temporary alternative accommodation.

 
How to stay safe during a flood

When flooding occurs the most important thing is to stay safe, and to make sure all members of the household are safe. If the emergency services consider the situation serious enough that you need to evacuate the property, do so. If not, move people, pets and any valuable documents or items from the ground floor to a higher floor.

Can a home be flood proof?

No home can ever be 100% flood proof, but if you take preventative measures to try to protect your property you can lessen the chances of damage.

 
What does flood damage do to my vehicle?

Flood damage can cause serious problems for a car, from ruining the interior by soaking seats to seeping into electrics and wiring. The water damage can destroy mechanical systems and linger for years, leaving damp spots and causing rust. You should check whether flood damage is covered by your car insurance provider.

 
Who pays for flood damage to a rented property?

This should be stated in your tenancy agreement.

How to claim for flood damage if you have RAC Home Insurance?

In the first instance, call RAC Home Insurance and report the flood damage. The claims team will let you know what steps to take and how they will assist you.