Water, water everywhere

Winter is upon us and, with it, the probable need to batten down the hatches against storms, torrential rain and the likelihood of localised flooding.

If you own buy to let property in an area that is subject to such flooding, there are a number of considerations you may want to take into account when arranging your insurance for landlords:

Areas susceptible to flooding

  • one of the first pieces of research you might usefully make is whether the area in which your let property is located has been subject to flooding in the past;
  • the Environment Agency published a map which identifies all areas of the country at risk from flooding from rivers or the sea;
  • the information is likely to be useful since some insurers may be wary of providing landlord insurance in areas known to be at risk – declining cover altogether, attaching conditions, or increasing the cost of your premiums;

Live flood warnings

  • even if there is no previous record of flooding in your area, that does not mean it may not be subject to such risks under certain weather conditions;
  • if you become worried about floods affecting your let property, therefore, you might want to consult an alternative Environment Agency site which issues live flood warnings for the whole of the country and updates that information every quarter of an hour;

Being prepared

  • however well informed you may be about the likelihood of flooding, there are nonetheless certain precautions you might take to help mitigate any loss or damage to your property – indeed, your insurer has every right to expect that all such reasonable steps are taken;
  • if flooding is likely or is already present, for instance, it may be sensible to visit the premises at the earliest opportunity or, if flood waters prevent your access to the area, asking a neighbour to make an inspection on your behalf;
  • in preparation for any flooding you may also want to consider installing flood barriers or “skirts” to ventilation bricks, windows and doors or even have water-resistant window and door frames;
  • replastering internal walls with a lime-based plaster or cement rendering may also help make them more water resistant;
  • downstairs, concrete or ceramic tiles are likely to provide greater resistance to flood damage than wooden floorboards or carpets;
  • moving plug sockets and switches further up the wall so that they are above any expected flood level may also help to minimise damage to electrical circuits; and
  • the installation of non-return valves into drainage pipework is likely to prevent sewage and waste water backing up into the property.

Clearly, the extent to which some of these precautions may be necessary – or even practicable – may depend on the type of property you own and the area of the country in which it is located. You may wish to bear in mind, however, that the lengths to which you are prepared to go to help mitigate any risks from flooding are likely to go down well with the providers of your landlord insurance – either helping to secure the cover you need or even gaining you a discount on the premiums you need to pay.