Flooded Home Insurance

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Sewerage problems - Who pays?

An example of devastating flooding can be witnessed in the experiences of one unfortunate homeowner in Cornwall. This gentleman originally purchased his house in 2001. He was initially attracted to the home due to the fact that it was located in a rather upscale area and the price seemed quite amenable. It was an older home; the owner estimated that it was built immediately after the Second World War. A few short days after he and his family moved in, his home and property were flooded by an estimated nine million gallons of raw sewage.

This became a regular occurrence. He noted that immediately after a heavy rainfall, such flooding would inevitably take place. Upon further research, he came to realise that this phenomenon was caused by public sewage pipes that were constructed years ago and not properly maintained. It seemed that the public works authorities had failed to take into account that a growing community would require a more robust drainage system to be adopted. As a result, the pipes were entirely too narrow to support the increased sewage and waste runoff.

Ten other houses in the immediate vicinity also fell victim to similar circumstances, although these homeowners had apparently given up on trying to resolve the issue. In fact, a total of twenty-three further floods occurred between 2001 and 2007. This amounted to well over two hundred and thirty thousand pounds worth of damage being suffered within this period by the homeowner. Legal costs resulting from a lawsuit being filed against the surveyor equated to an additional twenty-three thousand pounds.

When the owner attempted to file an insurance claim, he encountered two main problems. First and foremost, the provider cited the initial survey which stated that there was nothing wrong with the property. Secondly, the company also claimed that as this man lived in an area prone to flooding, they would cover none of the additional costs that were incurred during the legal and renovation processes. As with the other situations, this man fell victim to poorly outlined "risk areas" and a lack of foreknowledge in regards to whether he would be insured against flood damages.

The end result was an eventual replacement of the public sewage system. However, his insurance policy did not cover the flood damages whatsoever; he was forced to cover all of the costs himself. Due to the fact that the drainage pipes have been upgraded, he no longer suffers from this periodic flooding. Nonetheless, he claims that he still owes a great deal of money due to the renovation work that was needed to repair his home.

These three examples serve to highlight one of the main issues with flooding in the United Kingdom; namely that there are still a number of "grey" areas in regards to which properties are considered to run a high risk of flooding during inclement periods of weather. As many insurance companies will refuse to renew a policy after a major flood, this leaves homeowners with very few options should another such event occur in the future. While the government and local councils are attempting to mitigate these problems, there is still a growing concern that these incidents could financially cripple homeowners who lack an adequate amount of financial protection.

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