At a glance
- As explained in the Global Risks Report 2020, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected
- Between 2008 and 2016, over 20 million people every year were forced from their homes by extreme weather, such as floods, storms and wildfires
- It is important that brokers make sure their customers are aware of best-practice measures should they ever be impacted.
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As explained in the Global Risks Report 2020, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected. The last five years are on track to be the hottest on record, natural disasters are becoming more intense and frequent, and 2019 saw unprecedented extreme weather around the world.
Between 2008 and 2016, over 20 million people every year were forced from their homes by extreme weather, such as floods, storms and wildfires. In the United Kingdom (UK), as we have seen already in 2020, Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis have caused loss of life and significant damage to homes and businesses.
The increasing regularity of such events, and the likelihood that they will continue in the future, mean it is important that brokers make sure their customers are aware of best-practice measures should they ever be impacted.
Knowing the flood risk
With a significant number of areas in the UK susceptible to flood risk, whether it be from rivers, surface water or reservoirs, it is essential that home and business owners are aware of their own flood risk. Tools such as this flood risk map provided by the government can allow anyone to find out the risks in their areas, down to specific postcode. In addition to this, the government also list flood warnings online, meaning it is possible to take a look at which areas are under imminent threat of flood.
As would be expected, coastal locations up and down the country are most at risk, alongside areas with rivers where many of the UK’s oldest towns and cities lie. Whilst rainfall tends to remain relatively consistent year on year, the rise in extreme weather events mean areas closest to rivers and the coast are likely to continue to be at risk moving forward.
Whilst a rise in consistency of extreme weather events is bad news, it does allow for planning ahead and undertaking tasks that could reduce the damage done to a house or business. Whilst Flood Re, a joint initiative between the government and insurers, has helped reduce costs for individuals, businesses are yet to receive such help meaning their excess could rise into the thousands.
For brokers with customers, both individuals and businesses, it is important that you are aware of their risks and know how to advise them in order to help prevent large-scale losses.
For smaller businesses, for example high street shops, extreme weather can often be disastrous. Flooding is a common result of extreme weather, and flooding can damage shop floors, equipment and stock if allowed in. Whilst often used for homes, sandbags can be a good way to fight against flooding entering a shop or office on ground level.
Similarly to small businesses, individuals should also take appropriate care and plan to defend their home where possible. Whilst some damage is inevitable, significant damage such as flooding can, at times, be prevented or damage limited. Ensuring that any wires are removed and stored high up, sandbags or an equivalent are placed outside the home to combat flooding, and any items of high value are moved either to a higher floor or moved above ground as much as possible, these are all ways to try and reduce the damage flooding can bring.
As extreme weather events become more common, there will be accompanying insurance issues surrounding affordability and even availability. If, for example, an area becomes severely flooded annually then insuring properties within that area would become difficult.
It is essential that moving forward brokers are aware of the risks associated with specific areas of the UK, and are able to identify which customers are most at risk in order to suitably advise and prepare them for future events.
For more information on the topics discussed in this article, please get in touch with your local Zurich contact.