The scenes in Kent and Sussex this week are likely to become more common throughout the UK with the Met Office warning that the chance of flooding is likely to increase.

An estimated two million houses, valued at £35bn, are currently at risk of flooding and this figure is likely to rise as a result of global warming and an increasing number of storms.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: "The consensus is that flooding may become more frequent." He said that any floodplain area was at risk. The Midlands was badly hit two years ago, the south-east this year.

October is the fourth wet month this year, following record rainfall in April, and a wet May and September.

And with the government wanting up to four million houses to be built in the next 15 years, there are fears that a lot of the building could take place in floodplains which are flat and cheaper to develop.

The government is to issue new planning guidelines by the end of the year. A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions said they would "guide developers away from floodplains where the cost of defence is too high".

Householders living in flood-prone areas should still be able to get cover, though, as insurance companies have denied reports warning that future cover may prove difficult to obtain.

Dave Swann, underwriting manager at Zurich Personal Insurance, said about a third of properties did not have contents insurance. But he said floods were quite devastating, and "people should get the cover they need to protect them for the future".

Keith MacGregor, a household underwriter with Royal & Sunalliance said: "We do offer flood insurance to all areas. It is worrying if builders build on floodplains, but it depends on the flood defences."