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Flood recovery

When the floodwater has gone and it’s safe to return home, you may be faced with a difficult sight. Even a small amount of water can have a devastating impact with damage to your property and belongings, some of which may have to be replaced.

The eight steps below will help you during this time and will give you advice on dealing with your insurance company and keeping safe.

  • Contact your insurers as soon as possible and follow their advice. Don't throw away damaged goods until your insurer has said it's ok to do so. When you do wait for an organised collection. It's also a good idea to take photographs of the damage.
  • Check the safety of electricity and gas appliances before use. A qualified electrician needs to check any electrical equipment that may have come into contact with floodwater.
  • Avoid contact with any remaining floodwater or items that have been exposed unless wearing protective clothing and gloves. Be sure to dispose of any contaminated foods (including tinned) that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Boil all tap water until your water company tells you it's safe to use and drink.
  • Be sure to wash your own and your children's hands often with bottled or cooled boiled water if your water supply is not safe. Disinfect any children's toys.
  • Go to your doctors if any health issues appear, especially flu-like symptoms.
  • Ventilate your property but keep security in mind.
  • Rogue traders often promote their services after flood events. Make sure to get a written quote on letter-headed paper with a landline number and address before entering into any agreement. Check they are registered with the Government Buy With Confidence scheme.


Insurance is important to protect your property and belongings. If your property has suffered from flood damage in the past, if there is a history of flooding in your neighbourhood, or you are within an identified flood risk area, it can sometimes be difficult to find insurance cover. Usually in the UK flood insurance forms part of both buildings and contents insurance policies.

Who needs flood insurance?

Homes and businesses that are not at risk of direct flooding from rivers could still be affected by surface or groundwater flooding. The Environment Agency provide more information.

Homes and businesses that are not at risk of direct flooding from rivers could still be affected by surface or groundwater flooding. You can check your long term flood risk.

What will insurance pay for?

If a property is flooded, buildings insurance usually covers the cost of:

  • drying out
  • repairing and restoring the property itself
  • fixtures and fittings
  • removing debris
  • professional fees (Legal, Architects, Surveyors)
  • alternative accommodation

Contents insurance usually covers the cost of repair or replacement of damaged furniture, equipment and other belongings.

Business policies may also include income protection insurance. As individual insurance policies can vary, it is a good idea to check the exact details of what is covered very carefully.

Availability of flood cover

The UK insurance market is extremely competitive so several quotes should always be sought. Insurers will assess both the likelihood and severity of flooding and base their premiums on this. Insurers do not guarantee to provide cover in all circumstances, as some insurers may decide the risks posed by some properties are too high.

An insurance company may ask you for an Insurance Related Request Letter if your property is at risk of flooding. The insurer will use the letter to decide if they will insure you and how much it will cost.

The letter states:

  • if your property is in a flood risk area
  • how likely the area is to flood
  • the protection given by local flood defences
  • if there are any planned flood defences

You will get the letter within 20 working days. It’s free for individuals and businesses. To get this letter contact the Environment Agency or visit their website to learn more.  

Email: [email protected]  

Telephone: 03708 506 506

Environment Agency website

Alternative insurance sources  

If it proves difficult to obtain affordable insurance cover from the mainstream companies, there are specialist brokers who can be approached to arrange insurance for higher risk properties.  

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) ‘Find a Broker’ helpline can help with this.  

Telephone 0870 950 1790 or visit the BIBA website

Defra have published a leaflet about Obtaining Flood insurance in High Risk Areas

The National Flood Forum also provides independent advice on how to obtain flood risk insurance. 

Call 01299 403055 or visit the National Flood Forum website.  

Reducing flood damage  

There are many ways to reduce the impact a flood can have. 

These include:  

  • preparing a household flood plan
  • contributing to a community flood plan
  • sign up to the free Flood Warning Service for river flooding (if available for the area)
  • flood resistance measures (designed to stop water getting in)  
  • flood resilience measures (designed to limit the damage done by flood water and ease the clean-up process)

‘Flood Risk Mitigation Surveys’ can be undertaken to advise which method(s) are best for a particular property. Once the measures are in place, a follow-up report will confirm any equipment has been correctly fitted. This helps an insurer to understand the revised risk level and they may reduce premiums as a result.  

Making a claim  

Insurers should be contacted as soon as possible after a flood, and most companies have a 24-hour helpline. If the damage is serious enough, the insurance company will appoint a loss adjuster, who is an expert paid by the insurer but independent of them. 

This person should make contact within 24 hours, and will usually visit the affected property within three days (though if flooding is widespread this may take longer). They will draw up a timetable for the work needed, and advise who will be doing what at each stage. 

Flood Re

As building insurance is usually a requirement for a mortgage, being unable to secure an insurance policy, due to flood risk, could have serious implications for both the mortgage and the sale-ability of the property in the future.  

For this reason a special insurance fund called ‘Flood Re’ has been introduced by the insurance industry and the government, through a not-for-profit scheme for homeowners (though not businesses). The scheme is to be funded via a levy on insurers to:  

  • enable homeowners to find affordable insurance if an eligible property is at risk of flooding 
  • help tenants to find affordable contents insurance if you live in an eligible property 
  • help local authorities and communities across the UK to be better prepared for flooding 
  • create a ‘level playing field’ for UK insurers, which means they can still offer homeowners an affordable range of appropriate policies to those homes at risk of flooding.  

To check eligibility to the scheme and for more information, visit the Flood Re website 

Further information and useful links

Last updated 20 March 2024