england flooding

UK homes are not sufficiently protected from climate change risk, insurer warns

Image credit: reuters

Major UK insurer Aviva has called for urgent action to ensure UK homes and businesses are protected from floods and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

A Heriot-Watt University study from earlier this year predicted that flooding across the UK could increase by an average of 15-35 per cent by the year 2080. Areas of West London faced nearly three inches of rain in just 90 minutes last week, causing widespread issues.

In its 'Building Future Communities' report, Aviva has called for action from all parties concerned to address the threats climate change poses to UK property and livelihoods. The insurance company said that greater use of “nature-based solutions” should be employed which can help guard against multiple climate risks and called for a strengthening of planning regulations to protect UK properties.

New properties should not be being built on floodplains, the report said, while all existing and future properties should have adequate resilience and safety measures in place. Inevitably, the report brings up home insurance, saying it should be cheaper for those most at risk, as well as for those renting their accommodation.

The report highlighted the impact that climate change is already having in the UK. In 2020, the UK experienced severe floods in the spring and summer; in February, Aviva received almost a year’s worth of storm claims in just one month.

The Environment Agency predicts that the UK will experience a 59 per cent increase in rainfall and a rise in summer temperatures by 7.4°C by 2050, which is likely to lead to more floods, heat and subsidence issues.

Heatwaves can also prove fatal for many vulnerable people. In 2020, there were more than 2,500 heat-related deaths during three heatwaves which is predicted to rise to 7,000 every year by 2050 if action is not taken.

“A cultural shift is needed to better understand the risks from extreme weather and prepare for its impacts,” said Adam Winslow, chief executive of Aviva UK and Ireland General Insurance. “We need collective engagement from government, local authorities, industry and home and business owners to bring about this shift.”

According to Aviva’s latest flood mapping data, almost one in five (19 per cent) properties are at risk from surface water flooding. Since January 2009, over 70,000 new homes have been built in flood zones.

Other impacts of climate change are also not being adequately considered. In England alone, over 570,000 homes have been built since 2016 that will not withstand future high temperatures, the report warned.

Yesterday, the International Energy Agency said that governments are only spending a fraction of funds allocated to recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic on clean energy initiatives that would help tackle climate change.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles