[ Watch the video of Michael Wade’s speech at the Flood Re Breakfast Event ]
The estimated number of domestic properties at risk of flooding in the UK currently stands at around 5.2 million, with almost 4 million of these at risk from surface water flooding, and the rest at risk of inundation by river or coastal water. When it comes to the government and matters concerning domestic flood risk, Michael stressed that not only is it the role of the government to mitigate against flooding at both a national and a local level, but that it also holds a responsibility to inform individual homeowners of flood risk, and ensure that affordable flood insurance is readily available.
Following the dissolution of the Statement of Principles back in 2013, both the government and the insurance industry recognised that a long-term solution was necessary to ensure the availability of an affordable domestic insurance market. This solution, arriving in the shape of Flood Re, essentially provides a subsidised policy cost for those homeowners living within the 500,000 properties most at risk of flooding in the UK. While the insurance industry, and not the government, own Flood Re, it has been designated as a ‘Public Body’, meaning the company must report to parliament, and activities require approval by the European Union to ensure there is no unfair competition.
The political incentive to create Flood Re however only solves the provision of affordable insurance, and the question of the government’s responsibility to prevent flooding still remains. The Environment Agency can plan and execute ‘macro’ defences at a national level, for example constructing structures such as the Thames flood barrier, however Michael Wade suggests that it is of vital importance that the homeowner is also made aware of the precise type of flood risk to which they are exposed. By instilling this awareness in owners, they may then explore property level protection that may be installed to prevent the ingress of water to buildings in the event of a flood.
Speaking after the event, Michael again reiterated this notion: “I think the most important issue to focus on is awareness for individual property owners, their awareness of where they live, what their flood risk is, the type of risk, and what they might choose to do to mitigate flood risk to that particular property. The fact is that floods have occurred in this country forever, and people need to be aware of them. In the vast majority of cases, it is a relatively small amount of water that can cause a lot of damage, and this can be prevented in many instances.”
One way that insurers can work with the government to provide this level of awareness is by utilising products such as those developed by Ambiental, including FloodScore™ and UKFloodMap4™. Ambiental’s FloodScore™ is a cost-effective, online flood risk checking service, providing instant access to flood risk scores for individual properties in England, Scotland and Wales. Incorporating address level data using OS AddressBase, the product enables businesses to assess and quantify flood risk, and therefore allowing property owners to appropriately mitigate against the ingress of water in the event of a flood event.
In addition, the government has made an agreement with the insurance industry (and Flood Re itself) towards an objective of ‘betterment’ of the UK housing stock where it is exposed to flood risk. This aims to ensure at-risk properties are better protected against water damage prior to flood events, minimising the risk of property damage to the homeowner.
Speaking to Ambiental after his speech, Michael Wade said of the breakfast event: “The event has been a very full turn out, with standing room only, which gives you some indication of the interest in the subject, both from the insurance and reinsurance industry, of flooding in the UK; and a great feather in the cap for Ambiental.”
For more information on how the Environment Agency can help protect against flood damage, visit their website at www.gov.uk.
For more information on how Ambiental’s FloodScore™ and UKFloodMap4™ provides the insurance industry with ever more effective solutions to identifying and quantifying flood risk please call Mark Nunns on 0203 857 8545 or email [email protected].