How to protect your home from flooding

When the rain starts – and the flood warnings appear – it helps to be prepared. What can you do to protect your home and prevent it from flooding, and what should you do if it does?

When the rain starts – and the flood warnings appear – it helps to be prepared. What can you do to protect your home and prevent it from flooding, and what should you do if it does?

Chris King
From the Home team
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Posted 8 JANUARY 2020

Top tips on being prepared in case of a flood

We’ve put together our top tips on how to protect your home in the event of a flood:

Make sure you have buildings and contents insuranceBuildings insurance covers your house and the structure if damaged; contents insurance covers your belongings like furniture and electronics. The floods of 2015/2016 were the worst in at least a century and resulted in an insurance bill of some £1.3 billion. Over a fifth of UK households have no insurance in place, so avoid being one of them and make sure you’re well covered for all eventualities.

Read up on Flood Re – this is a government scheme designed to keep insurance affordable for people in high-risk flood areas

Understand your policyhome insurance usually provides cover for flooding, but protection varies between insurance providers. If you believe you’re at a high risk of flooding, take care to understand what you’ll be covered for before you buy the policy

Be prepared – you don’t need to create a laminated action plan – but think about your options. For example, where might you stay if your home becomes uninhabitable? What essential documents do you need to take with you? Does your policy provide cover for alternative accommodation? If so, is there a limit to the amount you can claim? If you have pets, who would look after them while your home is being repaired? There's a government guide to making a personal flood plan.

Adapt your home – if you live in a high-risk flood area, here are some practical measures you can take:

  • raise your power sockets and wiring to 1.5m above floor level
  • keep valuables and anything of sentimental value, eg photos, upstairs
  • install stainless-steel kitchen units, rather than wood
  • invest in doorway protectors, which expand and seal doorways when wet
  • consider air brick covers or barriers

Stay safe when protecting your home – flood water is dirty, and you don’t want to come into contact with it. So, be sure to have plenty of rubber gloves around, along with waterproof boots or wellies. You can also buy anti-backflow devices for your toilets, which will reduce the risk of sewage entering your home

Be careful – water and electricity are a dangerous mix, so if you do have water in the house, don’t try to turn off the electricity yourself. Have an electrician’s number to hand, so you have someone to call in an emergency

Keep your evidence – make sure you have records of your valuables in case they are flood-damaged. Take a few photos and store any receipts – your insurance provider may want to see proof of purchase. We know you’ll want to get back to normality as quickly as possible, but try not to clear anything up until you’ve spoken to your insurance provider

Be ready for a potentially long process – flood damage often takes months and in some cases over a year to restore. This is because in most cases the house has to be completely dry before any restoration work can take place. You may need de-humidifiers to be fitted in your home for several months before any building work can take place. Your insurance provider should be able to keep you informed of progress and extent of damage after initial assessments.

If your house floods, contact your insurance provider

Contacting your insurance provider sooner rather than later could speed up the process of getting things back in order. They could even find you somewhere to stay while your home is being repaired. It’s also a good idea to talk to your local authority, who may give you information about any available help.

If you’re a tenant, contact your landlord or letting agency

If you rent your home, call your landlord or letting agency to tell them what the damage is and what repairs will be needed. You may need to find somewhere else to stay, though in most cases this won’t be your landlord’s responsibility. You can check to see if your policy covers you for alternative accommodation and what limits apply.

Check your insurance policy

Your insurance provider may get a cleaning company round for you, but you can help the process along by drying your home out naturally where possible by opening windows. Your home insurance may also cover you for architect or legal fees but agree these in advance or you may not be able to claim them back.

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