"Some people worry that flood resilience measures may to be too obvious or unsightly, but most are unobtrusive and easy to action."
More than a third (37%) of UK adults believe their homes are at risk of flooding, yet two-thirds (67%) haven’t put any flood resilience measures in place, according to new research from Aviva.
Flooding is the biggest climate change consideration when selecting a new home – more than half (59%) of UK adults are most concerned about this, compared to subsidence (40%) and excess heat (31%).
Meanwhile, the majority (80%) of UK residents feel it is important (50% “very important”) to make sure properties are built to be resilient to flooding.
One in five properties in England are currently at risk of flooding, with flood impacts likely to increase in future. The Environment Agency has predicted a 59% increase in winter rainfall by 2050 and that once-a-century sea level flooding events could become annual by 2100.
Aviva's report found that a flood event could lead to 750mm of flood water in a home without resilience measures, which would cause homeowners to move out for a considerable period. The analysis, conducted with Aviva’s claims data, looked at two 1930s homes, one with resilience measures and the other without.
With simple flood resilience measures in place, the depth of flood water reduced by 64% to just 20-30mm – which in many cases is the difference between having to move out or being able to stay in a home.
Building Future Communities also found that failing to protect a house from flooding could have an enormous carbon footprint when restoring the property: 13.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to six and a half return transatlantic flights.
Financially unprepared for climate change
The research also uncovered the extent to which a large proportion of UK adults are financially unprepared for the impact of climate change on their home.
Although 55% of people are worried about the financial impacts of extreme weather (e.g. property damage), one in five (21%) UK adults say they do not have home insurance (buildings or contents).
This is significantly higher among private renters (38%) and those in social housing (44%). Only 4% of those who own their home outright say the same.
Households do recognise the long-term effects of climate change. Two thirds (65%) of UK adults believe that climate change will have an impact on their home in the next 10 years – and nearly half (45%) said there will be an impact in the next 12 months.
Adam Winslow, CEO of Aviva UK & Ireland General Insurance, said: “When a home floods, there’s not just a financial cost for the people who live there. There is also an emotional cost that comes with seeing treasured possessions being damanged by flood water, as well as living in temporary accommodation while the home is being restored.
“Some people worry that flood resilience measures may to be too obvious or unsightly, but most are unobtrusive and easy to action.
“Simple flood resilience measures can have an enormous, beneficial impact and can mean the difference between having to move out or being able to stay in your home.
“Installing property flood resilience measures such as fitting non-return valves on toilets, raising electrical sockets and raising up appliances such as TV’s, fridges and cookers can all help to protect homes and possessions.
“It’s also essential that we take action to make properties more climate-ready to ensure that we minimise the carbon impact of a restoring a home, which is an essential part of how we respond to climate change.”