Buying a High Flood Risk Home
We're frequently contacted by people that are buying or considering buying a home that has previously flooded or that is in a flood risk area.
When the property you are buying is located very close to a watercourse its fairly evident that it will be at increased risk of flooding. However, it's not uncommon to only discover that a property is at risk of flooding only when the searches and surveys have been completed. Whenever you become aware that a property is at an increased risk of flooding we'd recommend that you check whether it is insurable and how much this will cost.
Buying a property that has previously flooded or is at an increased risk of flooding is a very personal decision. It is important to remember that just because a property has or has not previously flooded it doesn't mean that it will or will not flood in the future.
There is not simple way of finding this out. We'd suggest that you:
- Ask your vendor if they know if the property has ever flooded (they are obliged to tell you if they know this).
- Ask the Estate Agent selling the property.
- Make enquiries with neighbouring properties.
If your property is mortgaged then you will need to insure the building for flooding as well as other risks such as fire, theft &, storm etc. Mortgage companies are becoming increasingly aware of the difficulties in getting flood insurance for some types of properties.
If you don't have a mortgage you need to consider whether you have the financial means to repair your home should it flood. Its estimated that the average cost of a flood claim is between £25,000 and £50,000.
We would recommend that you insure the contents of your home too, unless you have the financial means to replace everything yourself.
Its important that you have the right insurance in place for your home and its possessions. Read our two part guide on insuring your home:
No, if an insurer is part of the Flood Re scheme it doesn't necessarily mean that the they will include your property in the Flood Re scheme.
The cost of your insurance cover will vary depending on the details of your home and the people that will live in it. It is very difficult to estimate the cost of insurance without getting a quote based on the actual information about your home and its occupants.
Some insurance policies exclude some types of flooding, most commonly being flooding caused by water entering the property from below ground level. Your insurer may include a definition of flooding in their policy wording, make sure you read this.
Insurers may also exclude some of your cover if loss or damage is caused by flooding so ensure that you read your policy wording thoroughly.
In our experience the Environment Agency (or equivalent) maps often don't resemble how insurers view the flood risk of a property. The data that insurers use to assess flood risk is often far more detailed so its best to get a quote and check how insurable your home is.
If your property is eligible for Flood Re then it makes no difference if your home has previously flooded. If your property is not eligible for Flood Re then it will be harder to get cover.
Flood Re is a government backed scheme that was put in place to help people living in high flood risk areas or that had previously been flooded buy affordable insurance cover. Read our Flood Re Guide for more details.
The Flood Re scheme isn't available to all homeowners, and even if your home is eligible for the scheme it does not necessarily mean that your insurer will include you within it.
The eligibility criteria for Flood Re is:
- The property is currently covered by an insurance contract which is held in the name of, (or on trust for) one or more individuals or by the personal representative of an individual.
- The policy holder, or their immediate family, must live in the property for some or all of the time (this can be with other people) or the property must be unoccupied.
- The property must have a domestic Council Tax Band A to H (or equivalent).
- The property must be used for private, residential purposes.
- The property must be a single residential unit or a building comprising of two or three residential units.
- The property must be insured on an individual basis or have an individual premium, it cannot be part of a policy which includes a number of other properties as well.
- The property must be built before 1st January 2009 (if a home is built before 1st January 2009 but then demolished and rebuilt, the new home will however still be eligible).
- The property must be located within the UK specifically being: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (excluding the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).
Read our Flood Re Guide for more details.
Your property may be eligible for the Flood Re scheme but it doesn't necessarily mean that your insurer will include you in the scheme (see our Flood Re For Dummies Guide as to why). If your property is included in Flood Re the cost of your flood cover will be based on your council tax band. This is then added to the cost of your insurance for other risks such as theft or fire.
If your insurer decides not to include you in the Flood Re Scheme then the cost of flood cover will be calculated in exactly the same way as a property that is not at risk.
If your property isn't eligible for Flood Re then insuring it will be more difficult, particularly if the property has previously flooded or is very close to a water course.
If your home is covered by the Flood Re Scheme then yes you still be able to insure it. If it isn't then it may become more difficult and expensive to insure your property.