Flood insurance – the facts you need to know

Your definition of a flood might be different from your insurer's. Here's how it really works.

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Flooded river

Most home insurance policies will include cover for water damage - but that doesn't mean you'll definitely be able to claim if your house is flooded. Confused? We're here to help.

Who offers flood insurance?

The table below shows how some major insurers approach flood insurance. Remember, before purchasing a policy, you should always read the PDS for a full list of what's covered, as well as any exclusions and waiting times.

ProviderFlood coverWhat is covered
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Home & Contents Insurance

Available as an add-onLoss or damage from the escape of rainwater from any water pipe, drain or gutter, and surface run-off rainwater from surrounding areas that occurs within 24 hours of a storm or heavy rain. Also includes damage caused by earth movement that occurs within 72 hours of a storm or heavy rain.Get quote
Youi Logo

Building and Contents Insurance

YesLoss or damage to the insured property caused by flood.Get quote
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Home and Contents

Available as an add-onLoss or damage from the escape of rainwater from any water pipe, drain or gutter, and surface run-off rainwater from surrounding areas that occurs within 24 hours of a storm or heavy rain. Also includes damage caused by earth movement that occurs within 72 hours of a storm or heavy rain.Get quote
Picture not described

Home and Contents Insurance

Available as an add-onLoss of damage from the escape of rainwater from any water pipe, drain or gutter, and surface run-off rainwater from surrounding areas that occurs within 24 hours of a storm or heavy rain. Also includes damage caused by earth movement that occurs within 72 hours of a storm or heavy rain.More info
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Home and Contents Insurance

Available as an add-onLoss or damage caused by storm, rainwater or run-off.More info
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Home and Contents Insurance

YesLoss or damage caused by flood, including tsunami and storm surge.Get quote
Picture not describedstgeorge logo

Home and Contents Insurance

YesLoss or damage caused by flood, including tsunami and storm surge.Get quote
real insurance

Home and Contents Insurance

YesCover for loss or damage caused by storm, rainwater and flood.Get quote

How do insurance companies define a flood?

Your home could be damaged by a deluge of water, but that doesn't necessarily mean you've experienced a flood. In the world of insurance, a flood is only classed as a flood if the water escaped from a watercourse - such as a lake, river, dam or reservoir.

That means even if your roof leaks following heavy rain, or a broken pipe pours water into your basement, you don't need flood insurance to claim. Instead, it falls under the category of water damage, which usually comes as standard in a home insurance policy.

However, if heavy rainfall breaks the banks of a river, and that river water spills into your property, you would need flood insurance to be able to claim.

Is my home covered for flood damage?

It depends. Some insurance companies will include flood damage as standard, but others only offer the cover as optional extra, which you have to pay more for when you first buy your policy.

If you're not sure whether you're covered for a flood, read your product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully, or contact your insurance company directly to find out.

Is my home covered for rain and storm damage?

Almost definitely. Even if you don't have flood insurance, the vast majority of home insurance policies will include cover for rainwater and storm damage.

There will be some exclusions - for example, gradual seepage or slow leaks - but, generally, damage from rainwater will be included under your standard home insurance policy.

What isn't covered by flood insurance?

All home insurance policies will have different exclusions, but some common ones are:

  • Damage that occurs with a certain period of buying your policy (usually between 3 and 7 days)
  • Damage to free-standing walls, paths, driveways, bridges or landscaping.
  • Actions of the sea (insurers may treat tsunamis and storm surges differently)

Do I really need flood insurance?

Not everyone needs flood insurance. However, hundreds of thousands of Australians live in flood-prone areas - if you're one of them, it might be worth investing in flood cover.

If you're not sure whether your property is at risk of flooding, your local council should be able to help, and may even be able to provide you with flood maps for the area.

You can also check the government's Flood Risk Information Portal, which helps people understand the flood risk of their local area.

If you decide you don't need flood insurance, but it comes as standard with your home insurance policy, it may be worth contacting your insurance provider to see if you can opt out of the cover. In some cases, this will reduce your premium.

How do I find good flood insurance?

The quality of your flood insurance will depend on which policy you buy, and which provider you go with. However, there are some important things to consider during the decision process:

  • Compare your options - If you decide flood insurance is right for you, make sure to compare the features of different home insurance policies before buying.
  • Check the exclusions - Insurance companies apply exclusions differently. For example, some will exclude tsunamis and storm surges, while others won't. If you're living close to the ocean, this is a particularly important point to consider.
  • Contact your insurer - If you're unsure whether your policy offers flood cover, or you have any question about what's included, don't hesitate to contact your insurance provider directly.

Does car insurance cover flood damage?

Flood cover is included in most comprehensive car insurance policies. Like home insurance, if you keep your car in an area which is prone to flooding, your premiums might be higher.

There is also likely to be a waiting period, so you won't be covered for any flood damage that happens within the first few days of purchasing the policy - although the exact time period varies between insurers.

Picture: GettyImages

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