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Home owners in flood-hit areas are being urged to check whether their home insurer can offer them cheaper cover after the launch of a government-backed scheme on Monday.

The scheme – called Flood Re – will help insure the extra risk to homes in areas prone to flooding.

The Association of British Insurers said home owners might not realise that their options for insurance had widened following the introduction of the scheme. Previously, many home owners in these areas would have been paying high excesses or have had insurance that did not cover flooding.

Flood Re, announced in June last year, is intended to ensure that home owners in flood-hit areas can afford to insure their homes.

The scheme is partly funded by a charge to insurers for each policy passed to the scheme and a levy on all UK home insurers.

Flood Re said that it expects 350,000 properties to be put into the scheme.

What do insurance companies pay out for?

Buildings and contents cover will provide just that – protection for your home and possessions. Some policies provide new for old replacement of items, while others pay only the current value, taking into account wear and tear. Many insurance policies will include extras such as the cost of alternative accommodation.

What is the typical excess for a flooding claim?

For properties that are considered to be at a low risk of flooding, the excess is usually between £100 and £250. This rises to around £2,500 for properties at moderate risk and can reach up to £25,000 for those with a history of flooding.

How do insurers know if my home is “at risk”?

Official figures suggest one in six homes are at risk of flooding. Insurers use flood-mapping technology which is supposed to pinpoint at risk areas and even individual properties. But these systems can fail to take account of newly installed flood defences and the elevation of land and properties.

What about Flood Re?

Flood Re is a not-for-profit fund designed to ensure that homes at the highest risk of flooding can receive affordable cover. Due to launch in April 2016, it will cap the cost of flood insurance for around 350,000 homes.

It works by insurers passing on the flood risk element of policies for homes in at-risk areas to the scheme and paying a premium to do so.

This means that home owners should not have to seek out a particular policy, but should contact their insurers to check whether they are part of the scheme and seek out a lower premium, particularly if their policy is up for renewal.

More than half of the home insurance market has signed up to Flood Re and the ABI said others were expected to follow suit in the next few weeks. It is estimated that at least 350,000 homes could eventually benefit.

Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, said: “It is important that as many people as possible have access to home insurance so they can get the money and expertise they will need if the worst happens.

“Insurers have worked flat out to design and fund Flood Re specifically to address the problem of high home insurance premiums. April 4 marks the start of a process that will re-energise the home insurance market in flood-prone areas and help ensure as many people as possible have access to effective, affordable cover for their properties.”

For those at risk of flooding, the scheme should mean cheaper quotes for insurance, through lower excess amounts and premiums.

Aviva, the country’s largest insurer, will offer quotes for new policies that reflect the change from Monday. Renewal quotes will be available from May 5.

Lindsey Rix of Aviva said: “The Flood Re scheme will allow home owners who’ve been flooded or who live in high-risk flood areas to shop around as well as benefit from lower excesses.  “We’ll be able to provide customers a price for their insurance, regardless of the flood risk.”