Flooding – Are you at risk?

November 2nd 2023

Many areas of the country have recently been affected by high winds and rain, causing many property owners to suffer damage to their property because of flooding as well as loss of belongings, both expensive and sentimental in nature.

Although many people may think that a property suffers an increased flood risk if situated by a body of water e.g., a river or the coast, this is not always the case. Also, properties some distance from a body of water can be at risk of suffering surface water flooding. This is where high rainfall exceeds the drainage capacity in an area.

Given the recent adverse weather conditions we have experienced, ascertaining the flood risk to a property you are purchasing has never been so important. 

During your purchase an environmental search should be obtained which comments on various environmental risk factors which affect the property including flood risks and their severity. Should this search indicate that a flood risk is present, a further flood risk search can also be obtained to provide more specific information on the risk to the property. Enquiries should also be made on whether a property has ever been flooded and, if so, when this took place and whether this is a recurring issue.

If during a purchase, investigations indicate that a property has experienced flooding in the past, purchasers are advised to: –

  • make enquiries with insurance providers. Such enquiries are to ensure that you can obtain building insurance on a property at risk of flooding and, if so, that this is on usual terms and premiums before you commit to a purchase. 
  • check whether a property is eligible for the Flood Re scheme and able to benefit from insurance at reasonable rates if the property is at risk of flooding. Further information can be found at http://www.floodre.co.uk/homeowner/about-us/.
  • make enquiries on what flood defences are in place to tackle the flood risk in the local area. 
  • investigate what forms of flood resistance and resilience measures you can employ to help protect the property in the event of a flood and their associated costs.

In some extreme cases some property owners have experienced an inability to obtain building insurance on a property, at the outset or on renewal, if it has suffered from flooding in the past. Property owners have also been subject to having to pay higher premiums and/or have had onerous terms attached to their building insurance.

Undertaking this due diligence could make all the difference in ensuring you make an informed decision on whether a particular property is the right move for you. Whilst building insurance in most cases cover the cost of damage incurred to a property/replacement of items, it cannot replace everything – like those precious family photos – nor soothe the distress flood damage can have on a person and their family.