As extreme weather events increase in intensity and frequency it's critical that you review your insurance cover for inclusion of losses subject to a catastrophe that damages or destroys your home and possessions. In the case of floods, it pays to examine the terms and conditions of the relevant policy closely because there are a number of factors that could be decisive.

Definitions are pivotal, and insurers are very particular about the risks that their policies do and don't cover. Accessing cover depends on a number of factors, including where the property is located.

The standard definition of flooding that applies to all household insurance policies covering homes and contents, according to the Insurance Council of Australia, is as the inundation of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of:

  • any lake, river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not it has been altered or modified
  • any reservoir, canal or dam.

The source of water damage is critical to the insurance cover provision

Insurers make the distinction between flood waters and storm or rainwater damage which refers to water falling from the sky which has caused damage or inundated the property. This could apply to flash-flooding resulting from intense rainfall.

If you live on the coast you need to be aware that most household insurance policies exclude damage caused by the sea or inundation by seawater, although some policies may include cover for storm surges.

The terms of your insurance policy will clearly state whether or not flood cover is included. Under some policies even if you don't have flood cover you may be able to claim for storm or rainwater damage.

Insurance for flood damage on your home and contents policy may be subject to four conditions:

  1. as a standard inclusion
  2. as a standard inclusion, opt out at customer request
  3. not a standard inclusion, opt in at customer request
  4. not a standard inclusion.

Insurers usually charge a premium for insuring households in flood-prone areas, or may refuse to insure your property for flood damage, while other policies may insure for flood damage but only up to a maximum amount.

What information insurers rely on when assessing flood risk in your location?

For home owners in areas prone to flooding insurance cover may be difficult, costly or even impossible to obtain. To determine the risk to individual properties insurers generally refer to the National Flood Information Database (NFID), developed in partnership with and licensed for commercial use by Australian state and territory governments. The information is not publicly available.

The database contains 13.7 million property addresses coordinated with the known flood risk according to government flood mapping compiled by experts. Insurers use the database to calculate premiums based on this risk and other criteria such as building type and claims history.

What is covered for flooding by home and contents insurance?

A home and contents policy with flood cover usually covers the building(s) at the location and the possessions inside: furniture, whitegoods, clothing, curtains, floor coverings and other personal effects. If your home is uninhabitable, the policy may provide for temporary accommodation for a limited period while your home is being repaired.

To make a claim you'll need to list damaged items, taking photographs, providing receipts and explaining how the damage occurred.

You may need to make temporary repairs to your home to protect it from further damage, but advise your insurer first and do only what is absolutely necessary after photographing or making a video of the pre-repair condition. If the damage is extensive and the claim substantial you can expect an assessor to visit the property.

Our Gallagher brokers are here to help

Connect with us to request a home and contents insurance quote or proposal. Our insurance brokers have the expertise and experience to obtain the insurance cover you need.

connect with us


Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient's industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers' control.

Gallagher publications may contain links to non-Gallagher websites that are created and controlled by other organisations. We claim no responsibility for the content of any linked website, or any link contained therein. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Gallagher, as we have no responsibility for information referenced in material owned and controlled by other parties. Gallagher strongly encourages you to review any separate terms of use and privacy policies governing use of these third party websites and resources.

Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co (Aus) Limited (ABN 34 005 543 920). Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) No. 238312