UK on flash flood alert after severe downpours

15 January 2008 / by Verity G
Communities across the UK are on flood alert after forecasters announced that Britain could be in for yet another week of severe weather with flash flooding predicted for England and Wales.

Overnight, parts of western England have been hammered by rain causing particular concern for those caught up in last July's flood crisis. The Environment Agency has already put flood warnings in place for areas surrounding the River Severn from Worcester to Gloucester.

Gusts of up to 70mph have been predicted on the south coast while 40mm of rain is expected to fall in the south west region sparking fears for many homeowners with reports of villages and towns in the area preparing for the worst by clearing debris from roads and placing sandbags in front of homes.

However, thousands of families are still dealing with the after-effects of July's flooding and according to statistics from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), more than two million homes are at still at risk from coastal or inland flooding, despite new measures being put in place to minimise damage.

According to figures from the ABI, around 130,000 claims were made in the wake of the summer flooding, costing the insurance industry in excess of £3bn. While in December the Government published the Pitt Review – a report which outlines the steps required to protect UK householders from the effects of severe flooding, including clarifying the insurance industry's responsibilities to their claimants.

While input from both the Environment Agency and the ABI were included in the report, insurers have made it clear that if the Government ignores its recommendations, those living in the areas of highest risk could see flood cover withdrawn. James Harrison, CEO of, gives this advice for those concerned about their flood cover:

"Anyone living in areas likely to be affected by the flooding that already have a home insurance policy should be fortunate enough to have flood damage included as part of their cover. Most home insurance policies do include this cover as standard but double check the small print."

"If you do suffer flood damage, call your insurer immediately and quote your policy number to register your claim and start the claim process rolling. If temporary repairs are necessary let you insurer know as they may wish to inspect the damage before permanent repairs are carried out. It's really important to keep a record of damage and keep a copy of correspondence with your insurer."

Currently, insurance against floods is provided under a 'statement of principles' agreement whereby insurers pay for flood damage as long as the State invests in appropriate defences. This agreement will be reviewed later this year though, insurers have already warned that the £650 million pledged for defences in 2008 falls short of requirements.

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