How to check if a home is at risk of flooding
Following the recent floods where holiday cottages and second homes in Cumbria were flooded, we continue our flood advice posts.
According to the Environment Agency, one in six homes in England are at risk of flooding. And with climate change, the risk of homes flooding through rising sea levels, rainstorms and overflowing drains is expected to increase. Even if a property is situated away from a river or the sea, it could still be susceptible to surface water flooding.
Combined with the complexity of trying to get insurance for a holiday home in a flood risk area and the effect this will have on the property value, it is essential that you research if a home is at risk of flooding before buying.
Flood maps: Are you at risk of flooding?
To find out if a home in England or Wales lies in a flood risk area, visit the Environment Agency website where you can view flood maps. The map will tell you whether a postcode has a low, moderate or significant risk of flooding.
For Scottish homes, visit SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency).
The Land Registry also offers a facility that allows you to discover the flood risk of every property in England and Wales.
Getting insurance for a home in a flood risk area can be difficult
Insuring a home in an area that is designated as at risk of flooding can be difficult, but once a property has been flooded, expect premiums and policy excesses to increase. It is not uncommon for insurers to refuse to renew a policy or exclude flood cover following a flood claim. If you can get cover then policy excesses of up to £30,000 are not unheard of – as insurers have to take into account that the average cost of flood claim is between £20,000 and £40,000.
Before you sign for a property, it’s wise to get a quote for your holiday home to avoid any future nasty shocks and insurance problems. Insurers have access to a huge amount of data that will identify local flood risks. Check policy details carefully – paying attention to the excess and any flood exclusions.
Trying to sell a home in a flood risk area
Problems could also arise when trying to sell a home that is in a flood risk area, or one that carries a hefty flood insurance excess. It could be very difficult for a potential buyer to get a mortgage, which could make a property difficult to sell – thus reducing its value.
Although owning a house in a flood area can have insurance and resale implications, there are specialist flood insurance brokers who can help, advises the National Flood Forum. Don’t be tempted to cut back on insurance, as you could face massive cleanup costs following a flood – at your expense.
One solution is installing flood defences to protect your home, which can increase its value and reduce insurance premiums. Although they can cost up to £40,000.
With one in six homes in England at risk of flooding, and with flooding likely to increase due to climate change – check if a home is a flood risk before purchasing.