UK Construction Media

Householders in flood risk areas should have more protection, insurers says

News   •   Oct 11, 2016 16:27 BST

Association of British Insurers say homeowners in high risk areas have failed to install basic protection against flooding.

Hundreds of thousands of home owners who are in flood risk areas have been told they have failed to protect against a repeat disaster by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), who say more should be done to avoid damage.

ABI say that many have failed to take advantage of low prices and government support, and that even buildings guarded by flood defences should have flood-proof doors in case embankments are over-topped.

The insurers are frustrated that so many people have not taken responsibility for their own homes, with grants of £5,000 available to those who have already been flooded and want to make their property flood-proof.

The comments add to who is to blame over responsibility for the floods.

The Environment Agency have criticised the insurers for failing to protect properties, while local councils want more funding from the government and more control of how it is spent, criticising the Environment Agency.

Demands are increasing for tighter building standards to ensure that homes at risk of flooding are made more flood resistant.

Ministers plan to launch a report in the coming weeks, which reveals some of the tensions around flood policy. In the report, the Environment Agency blames insurers for failing to prepare for the increased threat of flooding.

The Environment Agency say insurers should not simply re-instate flooded homes to their original state – they should ensure properties are resistant or resilient to future floods.

Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the agency, says: “There is a disconnect between insurance reinstatement and resilient repair of property.

“Loss adjustors and builders do not understand the benefits of resilient measures.

“It is not clear that the insurance industry value property-level resilience or incentivising people to have it.”

The report’s main author, Sir Peter Bonfield, said: “The typical range of [flood-proofing] measures have a cost-benefit ratio in excess of £5 for every £1 invested in terms of reduced damages.

“However, there is still relatively low uptake in England – people at high flood risk aren’t routinely installing resilience measures in their homes and businesses.”

Sir Peter also says ministers may need to tighten building regulations to ensure that at-risk homes are properly protected – say, by raising plugs, fuse boxes and damp-proof courses.

This demand is supported by the Local Government Association (LGA). The organisation also wants a bigger budget for dealing with flooding.

The LGA also is privately critical of the performance of the national flood protection programme run by the Environment Agency – and wants it devolved to local areas.

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