Flood insurance recommendations unveiled by review team

6 November 2020   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Independent review of flood insurance in South Yorkshire in November 2019 found 6% of buildings insurance policies excluded flood risks.

Owner-occupiers were also far more likely to have contents insurance, with only 45% of tenants having such cover in place.

The review issued a raft of recommendations including improved Local Authority guidance to tenants in high risk areas and increased signposting to the Flood Re service.

The Government will now consider all the review's recommendations and respond in due course.

insurance home shield flood risk

What did the review find?

The review team engaged with 547 residents, 29 businesses and 30 other stakeholders to assess their insurance cover and their understanding of flood insurance specifically.

They found:

  • 95% of owner-occupiers had both buildings and contents insurance in place
  • 36% of tenants were sure buildings insurance was in place (a further 37% were unsure)
  • 45% of tenants did not have contents insurance
  • 72% of owners confirmed one of their insurance policies covered flood damage
  • 25% of tenants confirmed their contents insurance covered flooding
  • 6% of buildings insurance and 6.5% of contents insurance excluded flood risks

Of these statistics, the disparity between owner-occupiers and tenants was most concerning to the researchers, along with the percentage of insurance policies which explicitly excluded flood risks.

Review recommendations

There were 12 recommendations made in total, with a focus on improving the information given to residents in flood risk areas. These included:

  1. Insurance intermediaries should always signpost customers towards Flood Re if applicable and reiterates the dangers of buying policies which exclude flood risks
  2. Customers eligible for Flood Re should not be offered policies with flood exclusions unless specifically requested by the customer or if they are certain the customer understands the risks
  3. A new signposting service should be established to direct customers towards Flood Re in the same way elderly customers are signposted towards insurance products through the Find-Insurance service
  4. Landlords in high flood risk areas should provide tenants with details of the property's buildings insurance cover
  5. The Government should consider legislating to require landlords to have buildings insurance protecting tenants in case the property is uninhabitable for an extended period
  6. Local Authorities should provide tenants in high risk areas with guidance on their flood risks and the ways they can protect themselves

A more general recommendation included the reassessment of all buildings and contents insurance products that don't include flood cover - something previously excluded in many official surveys.

The Government has welcomed the review, but hasn't given any indication of when they will respond to the recommendations, meaning customers searching for home insurance ahead of the coldest months of the year may still struggle to find adequate cover.

Flood risks

Around 5.3 million homes are at risk of flooding in the UK, and some residents in high risk areas find it difficult to obtain buildings or contents insurance which includes flood cover.

Some customers willingly sign up to policies which specifically exclude flood risks while others are unaware that they aren't covered in the event of a flood.

In 2016, the Government introduced the Flood Re scheme which allows at-risk households to obtain decent insurance quotes.

There's more about Flood Re in our detailed guide to understanding flood risks and home insurance.

Anyone who has recently had a review of their insurance risk profile as part of a nationwide reassessment should double-check they have flood risk cover, especially as the winter of 2019/20 saw severe flooding across Yorkshire, the Midlands and South East England.

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