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Flooding, Japanese knotweed, woodworm: New home red flags that could send premiums soaring


The torrential rain in some parts of the UK recently acts as a reminder that flooding is a reality for many and just one of the surprise factors Brits need to look out for when purchasing a new home.  

New research from Quotezone.co.uk, a leading insurance comparison website, showed a list of possible risks to your home and the associated spike in insurance premiums, with flooding highlighted as one of the most prominent red flags.  In fact, a history of flooding increases home insurance premiums by 128%, on average.  And with the climate crisis increasing the frequency and severity of flooding across the UK, the damage, and its associated costs, are only likely to get worse.*

Then there are the more unusual risks every first-time buyer needs to be on the lookout for, such as woodworm and Japanese knotweed.  A recent study has found that an invasive and resilient weed, like Japanese knotweed – as well as other invasive species – costs the UK economy £41 million a year** by damaging buildings and risking their structural integrity.

Quotezone.co.uk’s findings, which are based on a sample size of more than 350,000 home insurance policies collated over three years, also reveals other factors people in the UK should watch out for when purchasing a new home, including proximity to a river, tall trees nearby and whether the property requires structural support.  These factors can dramatically increase home insurance premiums – and in some instances, risk the home buying process itself.

From the research, Quotezone.co.uk provided a watch out list for Brits before they commit to purchasing a home, which is intended to help ensure their pockets aren’t hit by hidden costs or a stalled mortgage process;

  • Check with neighbours and online using a flood map to see if there is a history of flooding of the property – to avoid the 128% increase on the average insurance premium. Beyond this, homeowners also need to consider the lasting impacts of physical damage to property and belongings, inflicting serious financial repercussions. Plus the added precautions the house will need for flood season.  
  • Search online for the nearest river. The recent climate crisis has meant that living by a river has become a concern for some homeowners – and insurers are recognising this risk. In fact, living within 200m of a river (compared to more than 400m away) could increase home insurance premiums by over a third (38%). A quick search can mean avoiding this increased cost.
  • Look out for signs of woodworm. As with Japanese knotweed, woodworm can cause long-term structural damage and, even worse, is often not covered in standard building insurance – proving costly to repair once the damage is done. In the short term, depending on the severity of the infestation, it can affect the chances of getting a mortgage. Look out for fresh, existing holes and tunnels in wood as the main sign that woodworms have infested a home.***
  • Dig – Ask the property owner or estate agentif the property requires any additional structural support and get the response in writing. Quotezone.co.uk’s data shows that if a property needs structural support such as underpinning, this can increase home insurance premiums by as much as 74%. Over the long-term, this can prove costly.

Greg Wilson, Founder of insurance comparison website Quotezone.co.uk, comments:  “By doing their research and knowing what to be on the lookout for, first-time buyers can make the stressful process of buying their first house a lot more straight-forward and help prevent potential issues with mortgage approvals and home buyer surveys, by being able to spot risky flaws in their new house from the outset.

“It will also help buyers work out a more accurate calculation for their mortgage repayments if they are aware that premiums will be higher should they still wish to purchase a property that they know will represent a higher insurance risk.  Especially if the risk in question requires a significant investment to upgrade or protect the property long-term – all useful things to know when working out if they can afford the purchase. 

“If first-time buyers shop around for insurance quotes by using a comparison website, it may still be possible to find a suitable home insurance policy that will pay out if your house suffers flood damage or damage from woodworm.” Quotezone.co.uk enables homeowners to compare quotes from over 45 home insurance providers side by side, helping over 3 million users find a competitive price and the policy that suits them best, and is recommended by 97% of reviewers on Trust Pilot.  In addition to standard home insurance policies, Quotezone.co.uk can help homeowners compare insurance quotes for homes with non-standard risks, including flat roof home insurance, flood risk home insurance and home insurance for properties with a history of subsidence.

This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.