Around five million people in England and Wales live in a flood risk area, but many will not be aware.

While flooding may not be preventable, awareness of your own risk will allow you to prepare should the worst occur.

To find out which areas are considered at risk of flood, visit: https://www.gov.uk/prepare-for-a-flood/find-out-if-youre-at-risk and enter your postcode (or that of the property you’re planning on moving to). If a property you plan to move to is considered at risk of flooding, it could affect your ability to obtain insurance cover.

The Environment Agency categorise the risk of flooding as follows:

  • Low risk - the probability of flooding is less than 1 in 100 but greater than or equal to 1 in 1000
  • Medium risk - the probability of flooding is less than 1 in 30 but greater than or equal to 1 in 100
  • High risk - the probability of flooding is greater than or equal to 1 in 30.

Assessing flood risk

The Environment Agency categories provide a statistical measurement showing the relative likelihood of your property being flooded and also how serious the level of flooding will be. It doesn’t mean that if your house has flooded recently, it won’t flood for another 30 or 100 years.

The Environment Agency can provide a flood risk assessment based on the risk from rivers or the sea, surface water and reservoirs. Surface water flooding can happen from water running off hills due to excessive rainfall (pluvial flooding) which can result in drains not being able to cope with the volumes. So even if you’re not near a river or the coast, that doesn’t mean a flood can’t happen.

If your property is deemed to be at risk of flooding, it’s a good idea to sign up to an early warning system that lets you know when floods are likely to occur.

Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service that provides flood warnings direct to you by telephone, mobile, email, text message and fax. Sign up for Floodline Warnings Direct by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 (24 hour service). The type talk number for this service is 0345 602 6340.

Alternately, you can register online from the Environment Agency website. The next step in your flood preparations should be to draw up a Flood Plan. To find out how and what needs to go into it, read our feature on Flood Plans  or download a Flood Plan from the government website.

NFU Mutual has developed advice and guidance on flooding for customers who consider themselves to be at risk of flood. For more information please click here.