Don’t make this home insurance mistake!

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

Some home insurance policies pay out inadequate sums if your home is flooded and you need alternative accomodation, so check the small print

Many home insurance policies may not include enough cover for those forced out of their homes by flooding, according to Defaqto.

The financial infomation business said many of those who have their homes flooded need to both repair and replace many of their belongings and live somewhere else while their home is dried out.

A seriously flooded house can take up to a year or more to put right, while it’s not unheard of to be out of your home for as long as 18 months to two years. The problem is likely to be made even worse by the shortage of available builders in the current labour market.

But not all policies will cover alternative accomodation for that long.

Could you be underinsured?

Depending on your property and local rental market, some insurance policies might not provide enough cover to pay for the total cost of alternative accommodation, said Defaqto.

It found that some policies offer just £15,000 for all costs, with almost one in four offering less than £40,000.

This might sound a lot, but it could easily be used up in an extended repair process. A small number of policies even provide cover for less than six months of temporary accommodation.

Defaqto found that the lack of private rental properties has seen rents soar in many parts of the country and cover for accommodation has not kept pace with this. Estate agents report that rents in Manchester have increased by 25.5% since 2021, 25.4% in London and 14% in Edinburgh. However, cover for alternative accommodation has hardly increased at all over the same period.

What should you do?

If you’re worried about being affected by flooding, check your cover for storm damage, and in particular the amount of cover for ‘alternative accommodation’.

This is the maximum sum that an insurer will pay for the costs of moving and temporary housing while your home is being repaired following flood or storm damage that makes it uninhabitable.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, says: “If you are unlucky enough to have your house damaged by storms and flooding, home buildings and contents insurance is intended to pay for any damage, provided you have cover.

“Buyers should beware of the insurance small print and check their cover. Many people underestimate just how much those costs might be and are caught out. Many policies have not increased their limits in line with the current rental market and homeowners could be caught out if they have to be out of their property for an extended period for repairs.”