Yorkshire floods: what you can and can't claim under your home insurance

People are ferried to safety through the floodwaters in Rotherham
Flooding can cause insurance premiums to spike Credit:  JON SUPER/REUTERS

Flooding has caused disruption for thousands of households across Yorkshire as heavy rain forced families to be evacuated with properties at risk of being swamped.

Sheffield was one of the worst-hit areas with roads left blocked by water and cars stranded. Properties that flood face an uncertain insurance situation with premiums and excesses likely to rise.

Flood cover is normally included within home insurance policies. Most policies will pay out for the cost of drying out and restoring a house, replacing damaged items, alternative accommodation and fees for professionals such as surveyors.

At-risk households can take immediate action including moving valuables and electronic devices away from the floor and setting up sandbags and flood barriers if possible. 

A spokesman for trade body Association of British Insurers said: “If you can, move as much as you can upstairs. Make sure you know exactly where all your important documents are.” 

Those with more time can improve homes’ flood defences with special doors and windows, move electrical sockets higher up walls and replace wooden floors and skirting boards with alternatives that absorb less water.

Historically, flood victims have had a hard time buying protection. If a house was in a flood-prone area properties were either expensive or impossible to insure.

Affordable flood cover is now available for most homes after insurers and the Government set up Flood Re. Insurers now pass cost of flood insurance into a central pool which spreads the risk and makes it more affordable for all.

Houses built after January 1 2009, buy-to-let properties and businesses are not part of the scheme. Owners still struggle to get flood cover even for high premiums, though specialist brokers can help.

Households part of Flood Re protection may have to keep their policy with the same provider following a flood claim. This is because existing insurers are bound to provide affordable cover after a house is inundated but a new provider does not.

The Yorkshire floods have also seen many cars damaged as rivers burst their banks and inundate roads and car parks. Fully comprehensive car insurance policies will pay out for flood damage to vehicles, but generally not for items kept inside.

Some insurers will reject claims for avoidable damage or if a motorist damages the car by driving into flood water they could have bypassed.