of Growing Flood Risk
Article in the Daily Telegraph December 2005
By Jessica Brown
Another 2m British properties could soon face steep
rises in insurance premiums, writes Jessica Brown
Househunters who want to avoid sky-high insurance premiums
should first check the current and future flood risk
of a property, insurer More Than said last week.
New figures from the Environment Agency reveal that
climate change could send the number of homes at high
risk of flooding up from 1.5m to 3.5m.
Environmentalists predict that Britain’s flood
damage bill could increase from £950m a year to £3.2
billion unless more is done to protect homes and businesses.
Barbara Young of the Environment Agency said: “Insurers’ figures
show the cost of repairing damage from extreme weather
and floods has risen 60% since 1998.”
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More Than, part of the Royal & Sun Alliance, is
worried that the number of people affected by flooding
will rise still further if the government allows the
200,000-pus homes planned in food-risk areas to be built.
David Pitt of More Than said: “Building in flood-risk
areas should only happen as a last resort.”
November marks the start of the traditional British “flood
season”. In recent years, however, certain parts
of the UK have also been hit by flash summer floods – such
as the one that devastated Boscastle in Cornwall in August
The government has built defences in many high-risk
areas and has promised to protect a further 80,000 properties
from flood damage this tax year. But many areas remain
People living in the countryside are often left exposed
because the government will not pay for defences that
protect only one or two homes.
Most insurers are committed to providing flood insurance
for existing customers where possible. However, the agreement
brokered by the Association of British Insurers (ABI)
guarantees cover for properties expected to flood more
than once in 75 years only if defences are in place by
the end of 2007.
Representatives of the insurance industry and the government
meet this week to review progress.
Being unable to get cover can leave homeowners facing
a negative-equity nightmare. The Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors warned last year that homes on flood
plains could lose up to 80% of their value without cover.
And those who can get cover often face crippling premium
rises. Research by Insuresupermarket.com shows that living
in a flood area can boost premiums by more than 60%.
Sebastian Catovsky, policy adviser at the ABI, said: “The
agreement we have with insurers and the government concentrates
on the availability of insurance for people living in
high flood-risk areas, not on the cost”.
People living in high-risk areas where no defences are
planned may find they can reduce this by investing in
their own protection.
Halifax General Insurance has a deal that means customers
who install costly Floodskirt protection can reduce their
premiums by 20%, and those who prevent flooding by using
the technology receive £2,000.
Insurers that have developed their own flood maps also
claim they can offer cover to more people and often cheaper.
Richard Mason of Insure Supermarket said: “Switching
to an insurer that has adopted a more sophisticated
method of assessing risk could save your more than £100
a year. But it might also show you to be a higher risk.”
You can check whether or not your home, or a property
you are thinking of buying, is at risk of flooding on
the website environment-agency.gov.uk, which also posts
daily flood warnings.