How to protect your home from surface water flooding

A combination of high levels of rainfall, and dry ground due to the recent record-breaking heatwave, means homes up and down the country are currently at risk of surface water flooding- otherwise known as ‘flash floods.’

Data from LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), one of the largest home insurers in the UK, shows flooding has been on the rise in recent years, with flooding related claims between January – August 2020 and 2021 standing at around 200% higher than in 2018 and 2019.[1]

Data shows a worrying increase in surface water flooding specifically, which can be attributed to hotter summers and extreme weather conditions. In 2021, LV= data shows the most common cause of flood damage was drains unable to cope with the amount of surface water.1

Not only does flood damage cause significant disruption and ruin people’s homes and possessions, it also costs an estimated £1.1 billion per year in England[2].

It’s tricky to predict where surface water flooding will strike, making it difficult to prepare for and prevent. LV= shares tips for what to do before and after a flood to help protect your home and family.

  1. Preparation is key: If you know that flooding could be on the horizon, create a plan for your family to activate in case of emergency. Think about alternative accommodation should your home be impacted, and how to get there. When flooding hits local B&Bs and hotels will fill up very quickly, so worth reaching out in advance to relatives or friends nearby who could accommodate you at short notice.


  2. Flood proof your home: Data from LV= reveals the average cost of repairing a flood damaged home is £32,0001, so it’s worth doing all you can to protect your house if you know floods are coming. When floods are forecasted, plug your drains, sinks and baths to prevent sewage back up and make sure valuable items are moved from ground level if possible. You should also clear your garden of any ornaments or plants that could be swept away or cause damage to the other parts of your home, and varnish and waterproof any wooden sideboards to help protect against water damage. If safe to do so, raise appliances and heavy furniture off the ground using solid bricks and wrap wooden legs in cling film or plastic bags to stop water soaking in.


  3. Know your risk: Check flood maps to see if you live in a high-risk area. You can also visit The Met Office’s website to see if flooding is forecast where you live. If your home looks to be at risk, talk to your insurance company so you’re clear about what will be covered ahead of time, and the information you’ll need to provide.


  4. Post flood clear up: After flooding has stopped, when it is safe to do so make sure to open windows to get air flowing and stop moisture building up (to avoid any further impact on otherwise unaffected rooms in your house.) As well as your home, your garden is likely to be badly damaged, and may contain debris from the surrounding neighbourhood. Although it can be tempting to try and get back to normal as soon as possible, it’s important you wait until waters have gone down to safe levels before beginning to clear a garden. Once water has receded, remove carpets that have been damaged but don't dispose of them, as they may be required to show your insurer the impact of the flood.


  5. Recovery after a flood: When contacting your insurance provider about making a claim make sure you have your policy number to hand, you’ll need to be ready to explain the severity of the water damage as well as provide your insurance company with information about what alternative accommodation you’ll need.

Ruth Beck, Head of Home Technical Claims at LV= General Insurance, comments:

“Unfortunately, following the severe droughts we’ve had, surface water flooding is much more likely to happen and if you’ve never been flooded then you might not expect it or prepare for it.Taking steps to prepare yourself can help minimise the damage and cause less stress too. 

“Your insurer is there for you should the worst happen so it’s vital to let your insurer know as soon as possible if you need to make a claim. Refer to your policy documents to see what you need to do if you need to make a claim. If you experience serious flooding and you need help straight away, your policy might include a 24-hour emergency service. Normally, this service provides access to approved tradespeople who can make damage limitation repairs to your property.

“Flooding can turn your whole life around, but by watching out for warnings, preparing for any eventuality and staying proactive if it happens, you can take control over how much a flood impacts your life.”

Read the full guide to protecting your home from flooding here:

[1] LV= General Insurance claims data

[2] Source - Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

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