The insurance industry is on red alert after forecasters predicted record high tides this weekend with the prospect of severe coastal flooding.

Norwich Union has sent out nearly 2,000 letters to customers alerting them of predicted record high tides this weekend. It has written to the homeowners to reassure them that they are protected in the event of a flood, and advising them of what they can do to minimise damage.

The insurer said it had used its improved flood mapping technology to pinpoint postcodes on the east coast most likely to be at risk.

Disaster restoration specialist Rainbow International has put its national network of more than 1,000 trained staff on red alert to be prepared for possible claims surges. It said it had set up direct links with environmental agencies to anticipate when and where flooding will hit.

The company also commissioned additional office space in the areas most likely to be affected, which will serve as an emergency response centres for coordinating the response and recovery plan if the need arises.

The tides are forecast to be the highest tides for 20 years. Although they are only thought to be 4cm higher than normal they could cause flooding depending on the winds.