How many properties are at risk of flooding?
In June 2009, the Environment Agency (EA) published its report ‘Flooding in England’ which estimated that 5.2 million (1-in-6) properties in England are at risk from
flooding. This was nearly twice the previous estimates, partly because the calculation reflected the impact of climate change, but primarily because it included, for the first time, properties at
risk from surface water flooding.
2012 was the second wettest year since 1910, when national records began, and the winter of 2013/4 the wettest since records began in 1766. There was widespread
flooding of many kinds in the winter 2013/4. Government research (UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012 and IPCC 5th Assessment Report September 2013) suggests that climate change will result in
more intense rainfall, increased peaks in river flows and rising sea levels, so flooding can be expected to become more frequent.
Concerns where a property is at risk of flooding
Landowners, buyers and tenants may have both immediate and long term concerns if their property is at risk of flooding. These will be more serious if the potential
flooding will be frequent or deep. The more important concerns are:
Potential increased cost of, or difficulty in, obtaining insurance cover against flood risk. Many insurers have access to sophisticated data on the risk to properties,
both commercial and residential, from river flooding, coastal flooding, surface water flooding and even groundwater flooding. For properties at particular risk, the insurer may set a higher cost
(premium or excess) or refuse cover (see Changes to the method of
Cost and disruption when a flood occurs:
potential loss of and cost of replacing goods and chattels;
likely cost of repairing structural damage to the property;
potential disruption to trade and loss of profits due to inability to access the property, failure of essential services, damage to or failure of communications or
damage to goods;
cost of relocating to alternative property (even on a temporary basis); or
possible effects on the health of homeowners, employees and tenants as a result of flooding (both at the time of the flood and afterwards: flooding can lead to long
term anxiety and health problems).
Many of these will not be fully covered by flood or business interruption insurance. Many businesses never recover from being flooded.