Flood insurance: What your home and car insurance can cover

From downpours to burst rivers and creeks, get flood insurance for your home, belongings and car.

Flooded area

You can get home insurance for floods either automatically or as an add-on. It's also included with a lot of comprehensive car insurance policies. To make comparing easy, we've put together a list showing who provides flood insurance and what they cover.

To find out more about flood insurance inclusions and exclusions, read on.

Flood insurance cover options

Provider Flood cover What is covered
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Budget Direct

Home & Contents Insurance

Available as an add-on Loss 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.
Youi Logo

Youi

Building and Contents Insurance

Yes Loss or damage to the insured property caused by flood.
Virgin money logo

Virgin

Home and Contents

Available as an add-on Loss 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.
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ING

Home and Contents Insurance

Available as an add-on Loss 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.
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Hume Bank

Home and Contents Insurance

Available as an add-on Loss or damage caused by storm, rainwater or run-off.
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Westpac

Home and Contents Insurance

Yes Loss or damage caused by flood, including tsunami and storm surge.
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St. George

Home and Contents Insurance

Yes Loss or damage caused by flood, including tsunami and storm surge.
real insurance

Real Insurance

Home and Contents Insurance

Yes Cover for loss or damage caused by storm, rainwater and flood.

Most policies have at least a 72 hour waiting time before you are covered. Remember to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) for a full list of what's covered, exclusions and waiting times before purchasing a policy.

What is defined as a flood?

Australian insurers have to abide by a standard definition of flood. The standard definition of flood in Australia 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."

Is my home covered for flood damage?

Insurers are not legally obligated to include flood cover in their policies so you need to read your policy carefully. If you're looking to buy a policy, take these tips into consideration.

  • Read the benefits of your policy: Always read the product disclosure statement (PDS) before you purchase a policy. If you are covered for loss and damage caused by floods, an explanation of the cover will be available in the section that lists the benefits of your policy. If you're unsure, call the insurer.
  • Common exclusions: The PDS will also outline flood loss or damage not covered in the general exclusions. This often includes no cover if the cause of the flood was man-made, or changes in the ocean level or waves from high tide resulted in damage to your home. Flash floods mixed with floodwater are also often excluded.
  • Check the limits. Some insurers put limits on the flood damage cover they offer, which means that even a successful claim might not be enough to completely repair the damage to your home.
  • Areas prone to flooding: Make sure you're fully aware of your flood risk when choosing or renewing your home and contents insurance. In the past, insurers assigned a level of flood risk based on your postcode but they're now able to form a much clearer picture based on things like historical flood records, the ground elevation of your property, the topography of the area and more. Your level of flood risk is then reflected in the cost of your insurance premiums.
  • Flood cover for contents insurance: If you're renting and only have contents insurance, check your PDS and make sure your policy covers you for flood damage to your belongings. Landlords should also make sure that their landlord insurance covers flood damage.

Does car insurance cover flood damage?

You can get flood cover for your car with comprehensive car insurance policies. Like home insurance, if you keep your car in an area where flooding is common, your premiums might be higher.

Car insurance policies often cover flood damage under loss or damage caused by a storm, including hail and flood. Others will include it more generally under accidental loss or damage. Either way, you should check the product disclosure statement (PDS) and check the benefits of your policy to make sure it's covered. Some policies might include it under 'natural events' but be sure to call the provider beforehand to make sure this includes floods.

With most policies, it's generally the case that you won't be covered for any damage or loss that is caused by floods within the first 72 hours of purchasing the policy.

What are the different types of floods and am I actually covered for them?

There are three main types of flood:

  • Flash flood. Also referred to as stormwater runoff or rainwater runoff, this type of flood occurs when a large amount of heavy rain falls in a short period of time, for example during a severe storm. If the drainage system has insufficient capacity to cope with this intense downpour, it (and river and creek systems) will overflow. Insurers generally provide cover for this type of flood.
  • Riverine flood. This type of flood takes place when a prolonged period of rain causes streams, rivers, creeks and dams to overflow. Riverine floods occur in low-lying areas, and in flat inland parts of Australia. They can stretch over hundreds or even thousands of square kilometres. Insurers usually provide cover for this type of flood.
  • Actions of the sea. This third type of flood occurs in coastal areas due to storm surges. Many insurance policies do not cover you for actions of the sea.

What kind of exclusions are there?

It pays to be aware of the exclusions that apply to your flood insurance. While the list of excluded events varies between insurers, the following events are often not included:

  • High tides or king tides (actions of the sea)
  • Storm surges that do not happen at the same time as a flood
  • Normal movement or changes in ocean levels
  • Man-made floods, such as a broken or blocked storm drain
  • Flash flood where rainwater is mixed with floodwater
  • Flooding without rain, for example a landslide due to tidal flooding
  • Action of the sea, including high tide, king tide, tidal waves and tsunamis
  • Underground water, seepage or pressure

6 tips for making flood cover easier

Follow these steps to ensure your home and car insurance comes with the flood cover you need.

  • Know your flood risk. Make sure you're fully aware of the flood risk to your property before you take out cover. This will help you work out whether or not flood cover is essential for you.
  • Read the fine print. Read your policy documents closely so that you know exactly what type of floods are included in cover and what sort of loss and damage your policy covers. This will ensure that you don't get any nasty surprises if your property ever suffers flood damage.
  • Contact your insurer. If you're unsure whether your policy provides flood cover or not, contact your insurance provider for more information.
  • Check with your local council. Your local council should be able to tell you whether your property is at risk of flooding and also provide you with flood maps.
  • Compare your options. Some policies include flood cover as standard, others don't include any flood cover at all. Other insurers will give you the choice of opting in or opting out of flood cover depending on your needs, so shop around and compare the features of a range of policies.
  • High flood risk = higher premiums. It's worth knowing that the higher the risk of flood for your property, the more your insurance premiums will be. However, you may be able to reduce your premiums by taking steps to reduce the potential impact a flood could have on your property.

What should I do after an insured event?

  1. Take all reasonable steps to prevent any further loss or damage
  2. Immediately contact your insurer to lodge a claim
  3. Provide your insurer with full details of the insured event
  4. Supply them with any supporting evidence you have pertaining to the loss or damage

Your insurer may then send out an assessor to inspect the damage at your property. The assessor will submit a report to the insurer to help them determine whether or not to accept your claim. In some cases, the assessor may not be able to determine if the damage to your property was caused by storm or flood, so a hydrologist will be dispatched to make a decision on whether your property was damaged by storm water or flood water.

Picture: GettyImages

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