FLOODING, FLOOD AVOIDANCE AND FLOOD RISK - ADVICE FROM LETTINGFOCUS.COM
Property Expert Lawrenson at LettingFocus.com explains what you need to know about floods, flood avoidance and flood risk.
When buying property it is important to look at the flood risk.
Incredibly, there are more than 2 million homes at risk from coastal or inland flooding, that’s around 10 per cent of all homes in the UK.
And around 400,000 of these homes are at a “very high risk of flooding” - which means people living there have a greater than 1.3 per cent chance per annum or an annual probability of 1-in-75 of waking up to floods.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FLOOD RISK
In the long term, the number of houses at risk could worsen. Climate change is expected to increase winter rainfall, the frequency of heavy summer storm bursts as well as sea level and storm surge heights.
If there were no change in Government policies or spending, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) - whose members account for about 85 per cent of all household policies has estimated that climate change could increase the number of UK properties at risk of flooding to 3.5 million.
At the same time, continued pressure on land could mean even more new developments being situated in floodplains like the Thames Corridor.
This cost to the insurance industry led to the ABI “working” with the Government to agree terms through which the industry would continue to provide cover for “the vast majority of households” in the country.
The key phrase here is “vast majority” because the insurance industry has not guaranteed it would cover every risk.
If you buy property in a flood risk area you can always expect to pay a higher insurance premium for the privilege. This is likely to increase in the future.
After a number of storm events of recent years, what happened behind the scenes was that the ABI - representing the insurers - and the government had something of a row because as the insurers see it, the government had for a long time not been spending enough on flood defences.
The insurers made it clear to the government that flood insurance would remain widely available only where the flood defences were being adequately managed.
The government were suitably worried and there followed an overhaul of flood management in the UK. The result was better planning guidance and a more accountable funding arrangement down to local level.
However, the Environment Agency is still not a “statutory consultee” for applications in flood risk areas.
So the insurers are still not entirely happy and relations between the government and the insurers are still cool when it comes to flooding and property flood risk.
And all the while the mainly Victorian drainage system gets ever older so the risk of urban flooding from flash storms rises.
COVER OR NO COVER
The ABI has said, that for properties at very high risk of flooding but where flood defences will be improved in the near future, insurers who are members of the ABI will continue to provide cover to existing policyholders.
Also, if an owner of such a property wants to sell then their current insurer will continue to provide cover, subject to satisfactory information about the new homeowners.
However, in areas where no improvements in defences are planned, the insurers have said that they cannot guarantee to provide cover in every case.
Here, the best that they can do in these cases is to use their “best efforts to work with policyholders to establish on a case-by-case basis, what action they, the Environment Agency and the Local Authority can take to enable cover to be continued.” This sounds rather like, “You are on your own unless the government can somehow help you.”
CHECK FLOOD RISK
So, if you are thinking of buying a property in an area that may be at risk of flooding, check the Environment Agency website where you can key in your postcode and assess the level of risk of flooding there.
Also, at the site, you can see a list of local developments where the Environment Agency has objected because it feels there is a high risk of flooding.
Bear in mind the local authority is the final decision-maker in planning proposals, so it can choose not to follow the Environment Agency advice if it feels other considerations outweigh flooding implications. Of course, if you are worried, you can of course walk away and buy a property elsewhere.
One final point to make is that we are very lucky in the UK to have flood cover at all because flood insurance is very patchy outside the UK.
For those buying abroad, overseas insurers often don’t provide cover against flood as standard or even under any circumstances in some cases.
Property buyers should keep this in mind when they “jet to let".
Ask us for more one to one advice.
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