Insurer warns vulnerability to flood risk ’will only continue to grow’

Axa has called on the government to ensure no “inappropriate” developments are built in flood risk areas.

The insurer’s homeowner resilience report, which was published yesterday (17 July 2023), revealed more than half of UK adults (59%) were concerned about the impact of climate change on their homes.

It added that the UK’s “vulnerability to flood risk will only continue to grow” and that “many more properties will be at risk in the future”.

”Without urgent action, we could be facing a scenario where a significant proportion of UK homes become unhabitable or uninsurable,” the insurer said.

While it praised the government’s decision to accept the recommendation to mandate sustainable drainage systems in new developments in England, the insurer added there was still more to do.

“The government should go further, ensuring no inappropriate developments are built in flood risk areas and closing persisting loopholes in the planning system,” the insurer added.

Home improvements

This came after Aviva’s UK and Ireland general insurance chief executive Adam Winslow said the government needed to work “hand in glove” with the insurance industry to ensure homes were built in the right places amid climate challenges.

In a LinkedIn post earlier this month (4 July 2023), he stressed that reforms to the planning system should prevent development of homes and commercial buildings in current and future flood zones.

And he revealed that the average cost of restoring homes for customers affected by extreme weather had been £60,000 per household over the last six years.

Axa found 68% of homeowners said long-term cost savings were the biggest motivation for making green home improvements.

However, more than a third (35%) of adults said they had not taken any action to upgrade their home.

Some 58% said that cost was a barrier and 28% said they would not know where to get reliable advice on home maintenance and upgrading works.

Therefore, Axa has recommended the government introduces a forward-looking national retrofitting strategy with financial support measures to help homeowners with high upfront costs.

“It’s clear that although there is appetite for people to future-proof their homes against climate change, there are a number of barriers stopping them from doing so,” Tara Foley, chief executive of Axa Retail UK, said.

“High upfront costs and a lack of knowledge are some of the key reasons preventing people from acting.

“Not only do we want to provide support to our customers by protecting them when the worst happens, we also want to help them prevent these situations from happening in the first place by providing advice on how to improve the safety, sustainability and efficiency of their homes.”