Of the five million people living in a flood risk area in England and Wales, only 5% are prepared for damage and loss, according to research by the Environment Agency.

The organisation launched its Flood Action Week on September 11 to raise awareness on the importance of being insured when living in a flood risk area. Television gardener Charlie Dimmock, who is renowned for producing water features, has been drafted in for the advertising campaign.

Although total losses – insured and uninsured – from flooding cost £600m per annum, only £49m were covered by insurers of domestic flood claims in 1999.

The Environment Agency emphasises the importance of having both adequate buildings and contents cover – one in four households at risk do not have appropriate contents insurance.