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Susan Care

Susan works as editorial assistant and researcher on personal finance stories. She also writes on a number of breaking news stories, as well as offering great money saving tips to shopping-savvy consumers.

Is your home protected from flooding?

As flood warnings spread across the country, the Environment Agency urges residents to check their home insurance policies.

With the Environment Agency issuing flood warnings for the Southwest, Midlands, Anglian and Southeast regions and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency warning of Glen Lyon in Tayside, right now the concern is about minimising the effects of flooding that may affect your home.

All agencies recommend you prepare for flooding and have prepared some useful guidance material that goes beyond the obvious steps. In particular, being aware of the location of your utility services so that you can turn off your gas, electricity and water supplies at short notice, potentially in the dark. Keeping supplies of food, bottled water available and moving important documents that would be expensive and inconvenient to replace are also suggested.

The Environment Agency estimate that about 1 in 6 properties, over 5.5 million properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea or surface water.

One of the first steps is to check that your home insurance covers you for flooding. Thanks to the "gentlemans agreement” between the government and insurance companies, you can get insurance even in high risk areas, though this agreement ends in June 2013.

The Environment Agency also publishes a Flood Map so you can see if your property is in an area liable to flooding.

When comparing buildings and contents insurances you will normally be asked to state the rebuilding cost of your home. For those that aren't architects or experienced builders the easiest method of estimating this rebuilding cost is to use the BCIS Rebuilding Cost calculator from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. One of the questions asked is the external floor area of your house, so it helps to know this beforehand as you can only use the calculator 4 times per year for free.

Finally, make a realistic estimate of the value of your contents. Undervaluing the contents of your home may result in your insurer only paying a proportion of your losses.

Armed with this information, you can the compare home insurance with MoneyMaxim.