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New Study Suggests Nation Unprepared For Floods

LONDON, December 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

72% of homeowners don ' t check flood risk when they move house

A new survey [ 1] undertaken by the online flood report provider, RiskCentral.co.uk, reveals that despite the UK suffering some of its most severe floods this year, over a third (35%) of homeowners admit that they aren't prepared for dealing with flooding to their home. Furthermore, it highlights that nearly a quarter of homeowners (23%) have left themselves exposed with no home insurance to protect them from flooding.

Homeowners are not prioritising information about flood risk when they move house with 72% reporting that they don't bother to find out if an area is at risk of flooding. 63% of respondents would only prioritise flood risk if alerted by a surveyor. This is a worrying statistic as surveyors are not specifically tasked with investigating flood risk.

The study suggests that lack of awareness and access to good information is a key factor in people's attitudes to flood risk. Over half (54%) of homebuyers that were actually concerned about flooding reported that they struggled to find the information they needed.  

Of those currently insured 41% reported that the cost of insurance had increased which suggests that the number of homeowners with no home insurance may well increase in the future, placing more people at risk. The survey findings and data are available to download here.

Dr. Justin Butler, Managing Director of Ambiental, a flood data provider which powers the RiskCentral service said: "54% of respondents to the study reported that they had not become more concerned about flood risk, despite the severe flooding this year. A key reason for this may be lack of understanding of the risk of surface water flooding. Prioritising, and improving access to, flood risk information could avoid this.  Recently the UK suffered some of its most severe flooding but worryingly the national picture suggests that homebuyers are still not taking flood risk seriously."

As part of their study, the RiskCentral team approached several survey respondents for further insight into their attitudes. Anita Grover, from Sheffield, witnessed the major 2007 floods in her town. "10 years ago, the dangers of flooding wouldn't have crossed my mind" says Anita. "Now, I would advise everyone to be cautious and to understand the potential that floods can have on the value of your property".

More widely, there is growing uncertainty as to whether home insurers will continue to offer standard flood cover for properties in flood risk areas. The existing Statement of Principles between the UK Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which guarantees that the majority of homes in the UK would be insurable at a reasonable cost, expires in June 2013. Data published by the ABI [2] in 2011 estimates that of those properties in areas of significant flood risk that are insured, 78% pay less than they would if flood risk were properly reflected in the price.  

Dr Butler went on to say: "The likely changes to insurance premiums for properties at a high risk of flood highlights how important it is that homeowners and buyers are better informed.

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