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Is my home covered for flood damage?
Your home may or may not be covered for flood damage, depending on your insurance provider and the inclusions and exclusions of your building-only or home and contents insurance policy. Flood cover is included in many home insurance policies, as standard but is a notable exclusion from other policies, or must be added on for an additional premium.
The table below displays a snapshot of some of the combined home & contents products on Canstar’s database with flash flooding cover and direct links to the providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) then by provider name (alphabetically). These results are based on a policyholder under 50 years old in New South Wales and ACT for building & contents worth less than $550,000. Check upfront with your provider and read the PDS to confirm what other sorts of flood cover may be available, and whether the policy as a whole meets your needs.
Your insurer might even include flood cover as standard, but allow you to ‘opt out’ to lower your home insurance premiums. Some insurers specify limits on flood damage coverage, meaning the amount you’re reimbursed by as the result of a successful claim may not cover the full cost of repairing the flood damage to your house.
Different insurers may use different terms to explain what they will and won’t cover in relation to floods, which can cause confusion when comparing policies, or when trying to figure out what you’re personally covered for. Your exact level of coverage will depend on your insurer and policy, but to give you an idea of what’s available across the market at the time of writing, Canstar Research shows that when it comes to home and contents insurance policies on our database, just over 80% of them include cover for flash flooding due to heavy rain, and just over three quarters include cover for flooding from a river or creek due to heavy rain. Roughly a third of policies on our database include cover for flooding due to storm surge, and while all of policies include cover for damage caused by rainwater runoff (a flood caused by heavy rainfall without adequate drainage), none of them include cover for flood due to a rise in seawater, or for tidal flooding.
Home and contents insurance policies with flood cover on Canstar’s database
|Damage caused by rainwater runoff||100%||0%|
|Flash flooding due to heavy rain||85.4%||14.6%|
|Natural water course (e.g. river, creek) flooding||79.2%||20.8%|
|Flooding due to release from catchment area (e.g. a dam)||79.2%||20.8%|
|Flooding due to storm surge||34.4%||0%|
|Flood due to rise in seawater||0%||0%|
Source: www.canstar.com.au – 22/03/2021. Based on home and contents insurance policies on Canstar’s database. Not all policies are available in all states and territories.
Things become slightly more complex when damage is caused by the flash flooding of rivers, creeks, drains or heavy rains. In the event of flash flooding, the source of the water seems to be what’s important to insurers. Where flooding or damage is attributed to a storm, another question insurers may ask is how soon after the storm the flooding occurred.
In the event of flash flooding, the source of the water seems to be what’s important to insurers. Image source: Hypervision Creative/Shutterstock.com
Even if your home and contents insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, you may still be covered for damage caused by storm damage or water damage.
If you are renting and have contents insurance, you may want to check whether your policy provides cover for flood damage to your belongings. You can read the policy disclosure statement (PDS) for details. It will generally be your landlord’s responsibility to ensure the building you live in is covered by either their landlord insurance or by the body corporate’s strata building insurance.
Is my car covered for flood damage?
Your car may or may not be covered for flood damage, depending on your insurance provider and the type of car insurance policy you hold. Generally speaking, car insurance providers will provide flood cover as part of comprehensive car insurance product(s). At the time of writing, 100% of the comprehensive car insurance policies in our database provide cover for flood damage as standard.
In the market for a car insurance policy? The table below displays a snapshot of car insurance policies on Canstar’s database with links direct to providers’ websites. Policies shown are those where hail or flood claims will not always impact your no claims discount. Please note this table has been sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) then by provider name (alphabetically) and was formulated based on a male aged 30-39 in NSW, without an extra driver under 25 years old. Check upfront with your provider and read the PDS to confirm the details of your no claims bonus and whether the policy as a whole suits your needs.
Who can I contact for advice about flood insurance?
If you are affected by a flood and need assistance in understanding your insurance policy, or have queries about how the claims process works, you can speak to your provider, call the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) Catastrophe Hotline on 1800 734 621, or visit the ICA website.
Is flood cover mandatory?
No, home and car insurers have no obligation or requirement to provide cover for flood. Following the 2011 Queensland floods, the federal government put forward the idea of making flood cover a mandatory part of insurance policies, and specified a new, standard definition of a ‘flood’. According to the Australian Government, the definition of flood is:
“The covering of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of: any lake, or any river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not altered or modified; or any reservoir, canal, or dam.”
Flood cover was not made mandatory, so it’s not legally compulsory for insurers to include flood cover in their policies.
Many insurance companies now only offer policies that do include flood cover, which has seen home insurance premiums increase in certain areas. Before committing to a particular policy, you may want to consider how flood-prone your area is, and whether or not getting flood cover as part of your policy is worth paying a potentially higher premium.
Is my home at risk of flooding?
You can check the Australian Government’s Flood Risk Information Portal to estimate the risk of flood for your home. This portal has been developed by the state and territory governments, in tandem with the insurance industry. It includes flood maps and flood studies, as well as details for surface water observations analysed with satellite imagery.
According to the ICA, all federal electorates in Australia contain locations that have flood exposure, to some extent. The ICA has collated Australia’s most flood-prone federal electorates, based on government flood mapping data. The electorates include Herbert, Kennedy, Maranoa, Blair, Flynn, Page, Fadden, Leichardt, Griffith, Moreton, Brisbane, Oxley, Moncrief, Dawson, Newcastle, McPherson, Ryan, Wide Bay, Lyne and Dobell. South Australian electorates were not considered, but if they had been, Hindmarsh, Sturt and Adelaide may have also ranked in the top 20, according to the estimates. Each of these top 20 electorates has experienced catastrophic flooding in a recent decade, with many also affected by cyclones. According to Geoscience Australia, just because an area has not flooded in the past, does not mean it will not flood in future. Similarly, areas that flood during one event may not necessarily flood during later events.
How can I find a good deal on flood insurance?
To find a high-value policy when looking to insure your property against floods, it can be a good idea to shop around. As flood cover is sometimes not included within home and contents insurance or even car insurance, it’s important to check exactly what your policy covers you for.
If you are in or near a flood zone, you may have difficulty obtaining flood cover, or have to pay a surcharge (a higher premium) or a flood excess (an amount charged if you make a claim), depending on the risk level perceived by the insurer. However, since different insurers may classify flood risk differently, it could be worth speaking with a number of providers.
Again, this means it may be worth shopping around for an affordable price on the level of cover you need.
When choosing a home insurance policy with flood cover, you may want to check if it offers enough cover to completely repair or rebuild your home after a flood. Two common types of home insurance policies in Australia are:
|Total Replacement Policies||The insurer pays you the cost of repairing and/or rebuilding your home to the same size and standard of what it was prior to the damage.|
|Sum-Insured Policies||This type of policy offers you a set amount of money in the event of a successful claim. This type of policy can incur lower premiums depending on the pre-agreed sum-insured amount, but if underestimated, the payout may not necessarily be enough to cover the full cost of repairing your home.|
If you’re considering your flood insurance options, it could be worth reviewing the terms and conditions of your cover by reading the PDS. If in doubt about whether you’re covered for flood or not, you may want to contact your insurer to clarify the situation.
Cover image source: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock.com