At this time of year it’s easy to have one eye on a summer getaway, the first barbecue, or what to do with the kids for the long holiday. Normally people don’t think of wet weather and flooding during the summer. That’s why headlines like this can be confusing and surprising.
Whilst May saw less rainfall than average, June has evidently been a washout. Some parts of Lincolnshire have have experienced two months’ worth of rain within two days. It can be inconvenient if you were hoping for a wardrobe change or were expecting the Cricket World Cup to go ahead without interruption. For many homeowners, businesses and holiday makers these floods represent something much, much worse.
Summer flooding like this is abnormal, however not unprecedented. In fact, it was only 2007 when flooding on a nationwide scale was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Those floods were classified as a national disaster, causing £3.2bn of damage.
Floods like these are often thought of as a once-in-a-lifetime event. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. Flood risk has always been there, and the probability of it happening again is the same as the chances of it occurring in the first place. What’s more, scientific research suggests that these rare events are becoming more frequent. A recent study of UK thunderstorms found that the intensity of rainfall is expected to increase in future summers. If so, headlines like these will become more frequent.
The Met Office has corroborated this type of conclusion by using historical data. Comparing the period of 1961–1990 with the more recent span from 2008–2017 their conclusion is clear. The UK climate is shifting to warmer and wetter. Tellingly this means more rain. It also means longer wet spells and shorter dry spells. The result is that measures used to mitigate flooding will be under stress for longer periods. The 2019 summer floods will form more evidence of these worrying trends.
When flooding does get the best of defences and property level protection, we often get to see the best of Britain. Do a cursory search of any recent floods and you’ll find examples of residents pitching in to help each other, or neighbouring counties dedicating resources to provide assistance.
As an insurance provider, it’s encouraging to see that our industry is part of those assisting in the recovery process.
Being there after the fact is what people expect of insurers — rightfully so. However, we have an obligation to assist in the overall education and resilience of our customers. We have to ensure that recovery is the last possible option.
At FloodFlash, when we say that no business deserves to fail because of a flood – we believe it. This doesn’t just mean paying out a pre-agreed settlement quickly. It’s also about providing business owners and landlords with the tools they need to develop and build their flood resilience. That’s why we encourage our broker partners and their clients to review how flood defences and property-level protection could help make their premium cheaper.
Out-of-sight-out-of-mind is one of the key reasons why homeowners, businesses and landlords are less alert to summer flooding. Roy Wright, who headed up a government funded insurance programme in the US summarised this attitude as, “financial planning based on hope, not facts”. It’s also the attitude that leads people to forget about flooding when they have cover. This is a dangerous (and costly) attitude. Having insurance doesn’t prevent damage and the distress of managing your recovery.
Our event-based flood insurance policies are designed to help people think differently about risk, and to see the benefits of being prepared for flooding. If you reduce the cost of flooding to your business by installing defences, moving stock a little higher, or just by having an effective action plan, then you will need less cover, and can pay a lower premium.
We believe insurance is for risk management, not convenience. FloodFlash covers costs that come after floods overtop resilience measures in the most extreme events. Our ultimate goal is to provide insurance which is aligned with your efforts to reduce the costs of a clear-up, stock replacement, equipment repair, or however a flood affects your business. A successful FloodFlash policy is not always one that pays out, but one where if a flood occurs, and the client has installed resilience measures, they do not have to recover at all.