Many households in the UK are at risk of flooding. By planning, preparing, and making your property more resistant and resilient, you can aim to reduce the impact of flooding to yourself and your property. From creating a flood plan to dealing with insurance, there are many resources available to help you plan and prepare for flooding to your home, and ease the recovery process that follows.
Planning ahead for flooding will ensure that you can respond to the incident in the most efficient way. You can do this by creating a basic plan of action, checking your insurance covers flooding, signing up to receive flood alerts and warnings, and understanding who’s responsible for managing flood risk. Download our ‘How to reduce the impact of flooding’ resource here for more information on how to become more prepared and more resilient to the potential impacts a flood can have.
When buying a house, you should always consider the flood risk to the area and to the property. If you are unsure whether the property is located in a flood risk area, you can check the property’s long term risk of flooding using this map.
You can also download our ‘Purchasing Property and Flood Risk’ resource here which suggest things that you can do yourself to become more aware of a property’s potential flood risk.
It is always a good idea to create a household flood plan if you live in a flood risk area, even if you have never been flooded before. It ensures that when receiving a flood alert or warning you know what actions to take, you can deploy any temporary flood resistance measures efficiently, and you are best prepared to protect your property and belongings from the impacts of flooding.
The information on this page explains how to create your household plan. Click here to download the household flood planning guide which contains all of this information.
You can download a printable version of a flood plan here. The document contains a pre-populated flood plan and a blank flood plan which you can complete yourself and keep in a suitable, easy-to-see place in case a friend, relative or neighbour may need to find it in your absence.
Create a checklist to make sure you have taken all the measures you can to plan and prepare for potential flooding in the future. You can tailor the checklist to suit the specific needs of your household, and it can include points such as:
Keep important documents in waterproof storage or saved on a memory stick and stored upstairs.
As part of your flood plan it is a good idea to sign up for free flood alerts and warnings from the Environment Agency which can be received by call, text or email by more than one individual for the household. It is important to understand what the different warnings mean as you can use them as a trigger to put your plan into action at the right time. Aside from Environment Agency warnings, you can also use alternative flood warnings.
‘Flood Alert’ – Flooding to low lying land and roads is possible. Stay vigilant and make early preparations for a potential flood. Prepare to act on your flood plan.
Actions to consider at a flood alert stage:
‘Flood Warning’ – Flooding is expected. Immediate action is required to protect yourself and your property. Put your flood plan into action.
Actions to consider at a flood warning stage:
Severe Flood Warning – Severe flooding is expected – Significant risk to life and property. Prepare to evacuate and cooperate with emergency services. Evacuate.
At severe flood warning stage:
For more ideas on what you can add to your step-by-step plan of action, download our Household Flood Planning Guide here.
A plan of what to do if you need to evacuate should be included in your flood plan. You should follow local news or contact your local council to find the nearest emergency assistance centre. You can prepare a flood kit containing essential items you would need if you have to leave your house.Visit this Blue Cross for pets page for more advice on how to protect your pets during flooding.
It is important that your flood plan is reviewed regularly to ensure that contact details are up to date. You should create a maintenance schedule to check that property flood resilience measures still function correctly, and practice installing them periodically.
It is good practice to fully test your flood plan once finished, and run a ‘flood drill’ so everyone in the house knows what to do and what to expect if you ever have to put your plan into place.
If flooding is expected and there is very little time to plan and prepare for a flood, you can consider carrying out the following:
Flooding to a household can cause serious damage if you don’t have any flood protection in place, or if the protection you have has failed or is overwhelmed. You should ensure that you have adequate cover for both your buildings and contents. If you live in a flood risk area you will want to be insured for flood risk, however insurance for households in flood risk areas has often been very expensive or even unaffordable.
Planning and preparing for a potential flood can be seen as positive steps to access flood insurance. Carrying out actions to reduce the impacts of a flood event may make it easier for your property to be accepted by insurers. These actions may include carrying out a property level flood resilience survey and installing property flood resilience (PFR) measures. The insurance company may recognise that you are taking steps to minimise the potential damage which could be caused by a flood.
In 2016 the Flood Re scheme was developed from collaboration between the insurance industry and the Government, and enables householders in flood risk areas to purchase affordable flood insurance. The scheme is due to run until 2039. Please be aware that any households built after 31st January 2008 are not eligible for the Flood Re scheme, so make sure you are eligible first.
For more information on how Flood Re works and an overview of other household insurance options, download our resource here.
If you are ineligible for Flood Re, you may want to consider the following options:
Insurers may offer the option of having a lower premium at the expense of a higher excess in the event of a claim or vice versa. Therefore it is important to be aware of your flood risk and consider the likelihood, severity and impact of a flood event on your home, to estimate your potential damage costs if a flood event was to occur. Household flood planning can be very effective at reducing the cost of damage. It is important to always ensure that you would be able to afford your policy’s excess in the worst case flood scenario. It is advisable to use an insurance broker for tailored policies. British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a ‘Find a Broker’ service that can help you find and contact a specialist broker to help you find flood insurance cover.
This involves purchasing a second policy to cover the cost of the excess on the primary policy in the event of a claim. In some cases, it may not cover the cost of the primary policy’s excess in full, but it may still make the overall cost of a claim much more affordable.
If you have considered all flood insurance options and they are either not available or not appropriate, you will need to fund any flood recovery yourself. It is important that you take into account all the potential financial losses and set aside a contingency fund for future flood recovery.
Only a landlord can insure the building itself. If you live in rented accommodation you may be able to insure your contents for flood risk through Flood Re if you qualify for the scheme. The Flood Re website outlines the conditions under which they will cover a tenant’s contents in a rented or leasehold property, and states the types of properties that are not eligible.
As a landlord you are not eligible to insure the building through Flood Re, as property leasing is classed as a business. See our section on business flood insurance for more information on how to insure your building.
For information on how to deal with flood insurance when flooding has occurred, see our ‘Handling your Insurance’ section here.
FACT: By taking steps to prepare for flooding and knowing what to do in a flood can significantly reduce the damages to a home and possessions by around 40%, reduce the risk to life and reduce the likelihood of suffering from mental health impacts in the future. – Environment Agency