May 17, 2011

Flooding – the facts

Flooding is becoming a recurring problem that requires more permanent solutions

Just 6 inches of rapidly moving flood water can knock a person down and a mere 2 feet of water can float a large vehicle even a bus.

Between 1998 and 2005 the insurance industry paid out £7.2bn in weather damage claims in the UK of which £3.5bn was for storm and flood damage. The insurance industry has concerns this is not a one-off, but a worsening trend.

The effects of flooding and managing flood risk cost the UK over £2.2 billion each year: the UK currently spends around £800 million per year on flood and coastal defences and even with the present flood defences in place; we experience an average of £1,400 million of damages per annum.

After the floods in July 2007 the institute of British insurers paid out more than £3Billion in claims. For every £1 spent on flood defences £7 is saved on restoration.

The vast majority of flooding does not rise more than 300 mm (1 foot) above the air vents.

Over 5 million people in more than two million homes are at risk of flooding in the UK, with 1.6 million at high risk. One in six homes are at risk of flooding, according to the environmental agency

Some 8% of the total land mass of the country – 10,000 square kilometres – is affected by river flooding alone. In 2007 about half the 1,016km (630miles) of flood defences tested by the floods were overwhelmed.

In 2007, UK flood statistics show that 27,000 houses were flooded.  By March 2008, 6,710 of these families were still displaced. 9,000 properties were affected in the major inland floods during autumn 2000.

Insurers will normally only provide cover if they estimate the risk of flooding at less than once every 75 years.

The ABI has announced that from 1st Jan 2008 some 517,000 homes were uninsurable due to high risk from fluvial flooding. This figure is expected to rise to 1 million when the combined map including pluvial flooding is released.

Reference BBC News,,, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the environmental agency and ABI.