Staying high and dry – protection against the increasing risk of flooding

  • Severe flood events in the UK are on the rise, costing public sector bodies millions of pounds each year
  • You can reduce the damage and cost of severe weather events by preparing for floods
  • With its wealth of experience, Zurich Municipal can help its customers take actions to mitigate the risks of flooding, and ensure any interruption is kept to a minimum

Last winter the Met Office said December and January were the wettest since records began in 1776. Just a year earlier, in 2012, April recorded its wettest period in the UK in more than 100 years, followed two months later by a series of extreme flash flood events.

It now seems that these one-in-100 year events are actually becoming more commonplace in Britain. Scientists from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have predicted that the UK, as part of a warming world, will receive 10% more rainfall on average per year by 2100, as well as an increase in extreme weather events.

The likely future risks due to flooding in the UK then are there for all to see. Currently, the Environment Agency estimates that more than six million properties in England alone are susceptible to either surface water or coastal flooding – making it vital that organisations, both large and small, should be prepared to handle these flood events, which can sometimes occur with little or no warning.

Storm and flood damage costs UK public sector bodies millions of pounds each year

John Parvin, Major Loss Team Manager at Zurich

“The weather may be beyond our control, but careful planning can reduce the damage and costs of severe weather events, meaning business interruption is kept to a minimum and public sector services can resume normal service as soon as possible.”

Before a flood strikes

First, it is important to assess the risk of flooding, by asking a few simple questions. Is the property near a river, sea or stream? Is it situated in a hollow, or at the bottom of a hill where floodwater could collect? Have drains overflowed recently in the property, or that of a neighbour?

From this, it is possible to ascertain what flood protection measures are needed. Using the Environment Agency’s flood maps, including new maps for surface water flooding, can also help to show the likelihood of flood risk in a particular area.

Surface water flooding – which occurs when rainwater does not drain away through normal drainage systems or soak into the ground, but lies on or flows over the ground instead – can be difficult to predict, but nearly four million properties are susceptible to it.

Resilience and resistance

Fitting flood-resistant measures, such as flood guards, can help prevent or reduce the amount of water that can get into a property following a flood event; while flood resilience – using materials such as water resistant plaster – can limit flood damage if water does get into a property.

According to the Association of British Insurers, using resilient repairs and flood protection products makes a property easier to insure than otherwise would be the case, as well as significantly reducing the time spent out of a property following a flood event.

For complete peace of mind, Zurich Municipal recommends its customers consult specialist flood surveyors to advise on the most appropriate preventative measures for each individual property.

Organisations can also sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct, a free service that sends a message when flooding is expected – giving extra time to prepare for the worst.

Making a plan

Having a business continuity plan in place should a flood strike is critical for any organisation. All plans should identify a safe place of refuge for people in need of rescuing by the emergency services in the event of a flood. They should also include a list of actions that need to be taken on receipt of a flood warning.

After the floods

If a property is flooded, then it is essential to inform your insurance company of the flooding right away, as they will need to send out a loss adjuster or other specialists to assess the damage. Furthermore, many insurance companies will want to project-manage much of the clean-up, so inform them before acting on anything.

Practical clean-up steps must also be followed– such as having power and gas supplies checked by a professional, the removal of water and mud, cleaning and disinfecting, and an adequate drying-out period – before reoccupying a property.

Working with your insurer

Claiming with an insurer should be an effortless process, and Zurich Municipal and its team of experts are always on hand to help customers deal with potential repairs following a flood event. To help an insurer with a flood claim, having information to hand such as the time the building was flooded, how long water has been in the building and the depth of the flood, will all speed the process along. It is also vital to keep receipts to add to a claim for any emergency repairs that may have been undertaken before an insurer was contacted.

Flood damage can present a number of problems for the public sector, but tapping into Zurich Municipal’s wealth of experience can help customers prevent and minimise the risks, as well as help eliminate the potential requirement for additional loss control measures to be installed retrospectively.

Find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our new Flood Risk Resource.