In the aftermath of one of the wettest winters on record in which many homes were flooded on multiple occasions over the Christmas period, we continue to wrestle with the conundrum which is faced by the UK in protecting life and property from flood.
Storms have battered our coastline and inundated certain coastal areas, whilst at the same time, the heavy rain has caused rivers to burst their banks repeatedly, flooding surrounding property and farmland. The industry paid almost £24m in the first couple of weeks after the flood to provide people with alternative accommodation and thus began the long process of getting properties dried out and people back into their homes.
There are many arguments as to what the environment agency should do in relation to dredging rivers to improve water flow, building flood defences and providing early warning systems to allow property owners to protect their property in the event of a flood. All of these measures cost money and at a time when government funding is being cut back, it is unclear as to how much more preventative investment can be made.
The insurance industry was pleased to be able to participate in the development of a new statement of principles for flood insurance, and whilst welcome for those who need to continue to have access to affordable flood insurance, it has presented others with a problem of being excluded from the guarantee of cover. The new statement of principles does not include small businesses which, at a time when the government is looking for growth in the economy, is of concern where businesses suffer floods.
A new development at the environment agency relates to the updating of their public flood maps so they now include details of surface water, reservoirs, river and sea flood risks, and they can be accessed by clicking here
It is clear that if weather events continue in the same manner as they have over the last couple of years, flood will become an increasing problem and whilst the new statement of principles is not completely ideal, we should also be mindful of the fact that the UK remains one of the only states in mainland Europe where the general insurance market still provides affordable flood insurance. Many other territories within the European Union do not provide flood cover for their cities and towns.