Check your house insurance

Check your house insurance is adequate and covers all types of flood damage.

Many factors determine the risk of flood for your area, including floodplain shape, slope, and storage capacity. All of these, plus the impact of man-made structures, can influence the routing of flood flow.

Watertight flood cover is important, even if you live on a hill. Home and contents flood insurance offers protection for the home and personal belongings related to flood damage. In general terms, the word 'flood' captures several inundation risks, but traditionally has been restricted to rivers and creeks overflowing their banks due to long duration rainfall over large catchment areas.

However, when it comes to insurance, there are three main flood types - flash floods, riverine flooding, and flooding from sea action (storm surges and tsunamis).  

Flash floods can occur almost anywhere when there is a relatively short intense burst of rainfall such as during a thunderstorm. As a result of these events the drainage system has insufficient capacity or time to cope with the downpour.

Riverine flooding occurs in relatively low-lying areas adjacent to streams and rivers. In flat inland regions, floods may spread over thousands of square kilometres and last several weeks.

The third type of flood is action by the sea, which can result from other phenomena, particularly in coastal areas where inundation can be caused by a storm surge associated with a tropical cyclone or a tsunami.  

Flash flooding, a significant part of flood risk, is produced by high intensity but short duration storms producing localised flooding. Inundation risks related to storm-surge and tsunamis are also risks faced, albeit to a lesser extent by the Australian Community.

If you have home building and contents insurance and you live in a flood-prone area, make sure you are covered for all types of flood event. If you can't get flood insurance, shop around to other insurers. Check the terms and conditions of your cover by reading the Policy Disclosure Statement. Usually, restrictions on policy cover are listed as exclusions, which detail the circumstances under which cover is not applicable. If in doubt contact your insurer to clarity the extent of your cover, and be sure to ask whether you are covered for all types of flood damage.

The extent of your cover will ultimately depend on the wording of you particular insurance policy. For example, your policy might read 'flood is an insured event' but there is no clarification as to whether that includes riverine flooding. Be aware that exclusions for flood-related damage might apply, and check your insurance policy for precautionary clauses.

One such example of a precautionary clause is:

You must al all times, and at your expense, take all reasonable precautions:

  • For the safety and protection on your building and the site
  • To prevent bodily injury or damage to property
  • To prevent damage to your building, and
  • To ensure compliance with all statutory obligations, by-laws or regulations imposed by any public authority, relating to the safety of persons or property.


If you do not, we may reduce or refuse to pay any claim you may make.

Important items to check in your insurance policy:

  • Policy might have a time delay for the policy to take effect e.g. 48 hours
  • Policy might not cover you for flood damage or flood insurance could be an optional extra
  • Policy might not cover all flood types, and
  • Your cover might be limited where you have not taken adequate precautions to prevent damage or loss.


The factors that influence whether a flood will occur include:

  • Volume, spatial distribution, intensity and duration of rainfall over a catchment
  • The capacity of the watercourse or stream network to convey runoff
  • Catchment and weather conditions prior to rainfall event
  • Ground cover, and
  • Topography and tidal influences. 


Source: geoscience Australia

If you can't remember the name of your insurer you can ask for assistance from the Insurance Council of Australia on 1300 728 228