Protecting Homes in Flood Plains and Storm Zones
Flooding is a major cause of concern for many homeowners and anyone that has been unlucky enough to have suffered from a flood knows that the resulting home insurance claim can be very expensive. Whilst flood is a peril that is usually covered under a UK home insurance policy, any claim can result in a loss of no claims bonus and may lead to a higher insurance premium.
Weather patterns do seem to be changing and many more homes are becoming ‘at risk’. However, it is homes that are located on flood plains that give the most cause for concern. Many home owners are unaware if their property is located on a flood plain or not, but finding out this information is essential both to the existing home owner and to anyone that is considering purchasing a property. The easiest way to discover if you property has a heightened risk of damage by flooding is to visit the governments environmental web site. Simply typing in your postcode will provide you with valuable information.
The flood maps are” multi layered” and will provide details of potential flooding from both rivers and the sea. As they are issued by the government, they are up to date with the latest information and you will also be able to view any flood defences for your area. The information available includes:
- Information on potential flooding from rivers or sea without defences, this indicates the natural flood plain area that could be affected.
- For flooding from rivers, the maps indicate the extent of a flood with a 1% or greater chance of occurring each year.
- Details of the possibility of an extreme flood deemed to have a great than 0.1% chance of occurring each year.
- Details of flood defences , these could include: walls, embankments and even land designed to store water in the event of a flood.
- Details of areas that are already benefiting g from flood defences.
Of course, one thing the maps cannot not ever show is the depth of any flood water and it’s rate of flow, these will of course be unique to each occurrence.
The Association of British Insurers estimate that up to 2 million homes in the UK are at risk from coastal or inland flooding. There are approximately 20 million home in the United Kingdom, so this amount is a significant proportion. They also believe that there are 400,000 that are at a very high risk of flooding and anyone that falls in to either of these groups should adopt a pro-active stance in protecting their own home. It is estimated that having some form of flood defence at your home can can reduce repair costs after a flood by anything from 50 per cent to 80 per cent. There are two ways for homeowners to approach the problem:
1 Taking steps to keep as much water out of your building as possible.
2 Taking steps to make sure that water that has entered your house, can leave the property as quickly as possible.
There are various websites that will sell you flood prevention equipment including guards to fit on doors and protectors for washing machines and appliances, there are also a number of measures that can be adopted to make sure that airbricks and vents etc are all fitted with valves to prevent water entry. If you wish to keep expenditure to a minimum, you could keep a supply of sandbags, these are cheap to obtain and can be quite effective if used properly They are effective against floodwater and can prevent or reduce the amount of water from entering your property, however, they do need to be put in place before the flood waters reach you. Additional waterproofing can be provided by laying plastic sheeting across the flood-facing side of the sandbag wall.
As well as taking steps to minimise the damage caused at your property, you should put in to place a flood plan at your home, to help you in the event that a flood occurs. You flood plan should be brought in to operation when you are made aware of flood alerts. Make sure as well that you understand the various types of flood warnings that can be issued. These are mentioned on both Television & Radio. There are four types of warning.
- Flood Watch – Flooding of low lying land and roads is predicted.
- Flood Warning – You need to act immediately, flooding of homes, businesses and main roads is anticipated.
- Severe Flood Warning –You will need to act immediately, severe flooding is expected and poses a serious danger to both lives and property.
- All Clear – No further flooding is expected. The water levels will begin to drop, you may return to your home, but guidance from the authorities should be sought first, proceed with caution.
When flood warnings are received you should take steps to protect your property by fitting any resistance equipment as well making sure that outdoor items such as bins, cycles and man hole covers are secure. Cars should be moved to higher ground. You should also have a written flood plan document, kept in a safe place ( upstairs and if possible in a waterproof container) All important documents such as passports, wedding & birth certificates, share certificates and insurance policy documents should be kept in this container. Make sure you also have a list of important contact details, especially local emergency service numbers and your insurance companies claims telephone number. Finally, always have a radio and several torches to hand with fresh batteries fitted.