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13 Feb 2022

Storms ahead: how the weather impacts home insurance premiums

Weather-related claims rise, but many homeowners are unaware of flood risks

Three-quarters of homeowners who've made a weather-related claim on their home insurance have done so within the last five years.

New research shows that while weather damage claims are rising, many homeowners don't know whether they live in an area that's at an increased risk of flooding.

Here, Which? explains how flood risk affects premiums and offers advice on finding the right home insurance policy.

Storm claims average £3,500 as the weather worsens

New research by Compare the Market found that homeowners are making an increasing number of claims for weather damage, as extreme weather events in the UK become more common.

The biggest spike in claims came in 2020, a year the Met Office reported as the fifth wettest on record as Storms Ciara and Dennis hit the UK.

Damage from storms (42%) and flooding (18%) were two of the most common reasons for weather-related claims, with the average storm-related claim valued at £3,500.

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Homeowners aren't aware of their flood risk

Flooding is a very real concern for many UK homeowners. The British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) says one in six UK properties are at risk of flooding, and that number could be set to rise.

Compare the Market's research found that two-thirds (67%) of homeowners are worried that climate change will increase the risk of their home flooding in the future.

Despite these threats, the price comparison website found that a quarter (23%) of homeowners hadn't checked to see if they lived in an area at high risk of flooding.

You can check the flood risk in your area by using the following tools:

How flood risk affects your premium

Living in an area with an increased risk of flooding can have an affect on your home insurance premium.

Compare the Market's research found that 16% of people who bought home insurance in 2021 lived within 400ft of water.

On average, homeowners in these areas paid £28 more for their home insurance, as shown in the chart below.

Does my home insurance cover storms and flooding?

Your buildings insurance should provide cover for damage caused by floodwater entering your home, be it from heavy rainfall, storms, high tide, or a river bursting its banks.

In addition, contents insurance policies cover possessions damaged by storms and flooding.

Most major insurers are signed up to the government's Flood Re scheme, which guarantees that homeowners living in high-risk areas will be able to secure insurance against flooding.

Despite this, some problems remain. In 2020, the government commissioned an independent report into flood insurance, which used Doncaster in South Yorkshire as a case study.

The report found that despite the Flood Re scheme, a 'small but significant' number of homeowners in the town had home insurance policies that excluded flood cover. You can find out whether your insurer is signed up on the Flood Re website.

Caveats and exclusions to flood cover

If you live in a high-risk area, you might be quoted a higher price for your insurance (as above) or be required to pay a bigger excess.

In addition, some parts of your property, such as outbuildings or fences, may not be included in standard insurance policies.

It's a similar case when it comes to cover for specific types of damage. Groundwater flooding isn't included in most policies, and coverage for burst pipes varies.

For example, if a pipe bursts, damage to your home and possessions should be covered, but to get the pipe fixed you might require additional home emergency cover on your policy.

How to find a home insurance policy

If you're looking for a home insurance policy, we're here to help. Our home insurance reviews analyse the standard contents and buildings insurance policies from dozens of providers.

In our reviews, you can see which providers offer key extreme weather insurance, including trace and access (which covers finding the source of a leak in your property), alternative accommodation (if you need to temporarily leave your home due to flood damage), and cover for groundwater and burst pipes.

If you're struggling to find suitable cover for your home, you may benefit from searching for a specialist insurer. The British Insurance Brokers' Association can offer advice on your options.

Compare home insurance quotes

Our partner Confused.com compares prices from more than 50 insurers to help you choose the right one. Get a quote now.

Which? Limited is registered in England and Wales to 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF, company number 00677665 and is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Inspop.com Ltd for the introduction of non-investment motor and home insurance products (FRN 610689). Inspop.com Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide advice and arrange non-investment motor and home insurance products (FRN310635) and is registered in England and Wales to Greyfriars House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, South Wales, CF10 3AL, company number 03857130. Confused.com is a trading name of Inspop.com Ltd.