Incentivising Household Action On Flooding

Our latest blog runs through our findings from a recent trip to Westminster where we had the pleasure of  attending a round table discussion by Social Market Foundation on Incentivising Household Action On Flooding.

Attended by Theresa Coffey, under shadow secretary for Environment,  Flood Re, Aviva, Lloyds Banking Group and the chair of Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd and other key players in the flood arena.

This was a fast paced debate with an intimate gathering and provided lively conversation.

What did we cover? ‘Incentivising household action on flooding’

This is a fairly broad subject matter and was delivered in a punchy presentation and led straight onto an open floor discussion. See below some of the points and questions discussed with supporting answers from around the table.

How do you increase the take up of resilience and resistive flood measures?
Better education, more choice and availability, affordable options, advice from recognised bodies

What is stopping people from taking up measures and can this be overcome?
Cost, effort, mis-information, personal choice, aesthetics, negative effects on re-sale of the property, lack of information.

As a property owner in a flood risk area, how do you feel about flood insurance? Does FloodRe offer up an affordable solution to you?
FloodRe aims to help provide affordable and available home insurance, that gives you peace of mind that, even after a flood claim, you should still be able to find insurance with affordable premiums and excesses. In order to deliver an affordable insurance solution it rests on managing flood risk and reducing the cost of claims. Flood Re will be in place until 2039 and by then flood insurance should be an affordable and available market.

Three key steps that need to occur for households at risk of flooding to engage meaningfully, Motivation, Access and assess information and Take action.

Motivation – A few things need to happen here in order to motivate householders:

1. Believe that they are at risk of flooding

2. Realise they are responsible for protecting their property

3. Be engaged and open to resilience and resistance measures.

Access and assess information
The householder needs to access information about the measures, understand the cost and quality and whether they are appropriate for their property. What products are available on the market, where is the information found? is the information easy and accessible?

Take action
This is a tricky one, ultimately it comes down to affordability and whether you have the means to take action. Do they provide value for money and any unintended consequences do not outweigh the potential benefits. Do we understand enough about the risk to take action.

It is clear that a different approach is required as during the steps above there is a drop off and little or no action is taken.

What is the resolve and new approach?

A package of new initiatives were touched upon which included,

  • Increasing understanding of risk and damage
  • Increasing ownership of the issue
  • Increasing understanding of potential options and their benefits
  • Reducing costs

At present when a homeowner claims on their flood insurance, it is a like for like replacement done at a highly emotional time when people are generally not in the right frame of mind . What if there could be change in that process, an understanding by the insurance company that you are at flood risk in your property so when your insurance claim is addressed it takes into account that you will need extra funds to add measures that mitigate flooding and ultimately reduce any further claims.

Could the insurance companies take on some of the responsibility and using their team of specialist flood surveyors make decisions for you? Mandatory measures may well have to be considered as the scale of the problem continues to rise.

This proposition raised eyebrows amongst those who had been flooded, it’s a difficult time following flooding and  decisions are being proposed beyond your control, How would you feel?

Aviva are working through options at the moment that will hopefully make life easier for owners in flood affected and at risk areas and we look forward to seeing their results in the near future.

Current building regulations could be subject to change to support the action needed, covering two distinct areas:

Presumption for resilient repair, building regulations could require a set of resilience standards that need to be met when properties that have been flooded are being reinstated

Renovation and new build, negligible and low-cost resilience measures could become mandatory for all new and renovated properties.

This is certainly work in progress and highlights areas where more work needs to be done, question marks over where the responsibility lies with education on flood measures and how flood insurance claims are managed. The necessity to have an overall standard for flood protection measures and the bodies advising and installing them must be reached, ultimately as a country we need to work towards being better prepared, we are no stranger to flooding and action is required.

The full report from SMF can be downloaded here.