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Will property owners be able to continue getting flood insurance?

Posted on 07/09/2011

Since 2000 the Association of British Insurers (“ABI”) and the Government have had an agreement known as the Statement of Principles on the Provision of Flood Insurance. The Statement, which was intended as a temporary measure, has been revised over time, most recently in 2008, and versions have been agreed with the devolved administrations. The current agreement is due to expire in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in mid-2013.

The Statement of Principles commits insurers to make flood insurance as widely available as possible until 2013, and as a result the industry has been providing cover for the last decade to some otherwise uninsurable properties. In return, the Government is committed to ensuring that flood risk is appropriately managed and that long-term flood risk management commitments are made during this period, to enable the competitive market to deliver affordable flood insurance for the vast majority of customers once the Statement of Principles ends.

Importantly, buildings built after 1st January 2009 in high risk areas are not covered by the Statement of Principles and therefore may not be covered at all already.

However, following the ABI’s Conference on Flooding on 24th November 2010, they published a report entitled “Fighting Flood Risk Together” (see downloads section/available to download from their website at http://www.abi.org.uk/Publications/53063.pdf ) in which they revealed that they will NOT be renewing the Statement of Principles beyond 2013, which will leave many house and business owners without any flood insurance cover.

Hurricane Irene predicted to hit Eastern Seaboard

Posted on 26/07/2011

The first major storm of the American 2011 hurricane season is predicted to cause storm surges of 4 to 8 feet and, coupled with rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches, is anticipated to cause widespread flooding in North Carolina, Virginia and New York State.

With memories of the terrible flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans in 2005, two million residents along the Atlantic Coast have been ordered to evacuate. They also closed down most sporting events and all public transportation in New York to reduce potential loss of life.

Worldwide Flooding

Posted on 09/01/2011

Large areas of Australia have been affected by torrential rain and flash flooding of an extent not seen in that country for very many years. Queensland and parts of New South Wales bore the brunt of these, with the city of Brisbane devastated by the Brisbane River breaking out of its normal course. Over 200,000 people were affected, with 70 losing their lives and billions of dollars in damage caused.

Prototype shown on Midlands Today

Posted on 14/08/2010

Another successful test raising of the first full-sized HiBar prototype took place on the 2nd July 2010 at Hereford, in front of the BBC Midlands Today cameras, with the inventor and CEO being interviewed standing inside the barrier, whilst the tank was being flooded and the barrier rising around him. Reporter Ben Sidwell’s report was aired in both the lunchtime and evening news slots on Saturday 3rd July 2010 and has already prompted several expressions of further interest in the product by potential customers for the HiBar Flood Barrier system.

Pakistan flooded

Posted on 22/07/2010

The Indus River that runs right through the centre of Pakistan and the giver of life to the country through the supply of water to essential agriculture has turned against its population and spread out across the country, causing terrible misery and disruption. The death toll is close to 2,000 and the costs of damage are estimated at around $43bn.

Will The Government Do Enough?

Posted on 12/03/2010

Six hours of debate took place in Parliament in early February 2010.  Quotes from that debate:-

Mr. Robertson (M.P. for Tewkesbury)

“We’ve heard a lot about flooding once in a hundred or two hundred years, or in respect of the North-West floods a few months ago, once in a thousand years.  I don’t think we can speak in those terms.  I do not believe that floods have been recorded for a thousand years in which case we cannot say how often they have occurred over a thousand year period.  In view of climate change we cannot assume the weather patterns will be the same in the future as they have been in the past.

We must do everything we can to prepare for flooding.  My own area of Tewkesbury floods regularly, and it has been flooded in the last couple of weeks.  The roads as well as the fields near the famous Mythe waterworks, close to where I live, have flooded.  It’s not all making news because it happens so often.  Even in the village of Prestbury, close to Cheltenham Racecourse, where they have never experienced flooding before, they have been flooded in June 2007.  I realise after that a housing estate had been built on what I consider to be an inappropriate place, which no doubt contributed to the flooding further down the road”.

John Redwood said in the most recent bad floods “All the main roads to Reading were cut off”.

Martin Forward, M.P. said “Let me begin by giving you an example of the problem.  Mr. and Mrs. Straight from the Park area of my constituency have recently had a bad experience with their insurance company.  It is unrelated to flooding because their property has never flooded.  The floods of 2007, which were likely to take place once in every hundred plus years they were untouched by flooding.  However, as a result of that recent bad experience they wanted to change their insurance company and discovered that flooding was excluded as a risk simply because of their postcode, despite the fact that their property had never flooded.

… The approach of the insurance industry appears to tolerate there being exclusions the moment someone moves insurance companies”.

During the debate it was reported that a quarter of homes flooded in the June 2007 floods were not covered by insurance.  The average cost to a household flooded was between £23,000 and £30,000.  The average cost to a business flooded was even higher, between £75,000 and £112,000.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn: “As a society we have come to learn that if we pave tarmac and concrete over all our towns and cities in huge amounts it would be difficult for the water to flow away”.

Nick Herbert, M.P. for Arundel and South Downs:  “As the Secretary of State rightly said, the recent Environment Agency report into the 2007 floods reminded us of their huge financial impact - more than £3 billion.  There were thousands of case of personal suffering, with people losing possessions, property and, in the very worst cases, their lives.  Those problems are not going to go away, and there’s plenty of evidence to say that they could get worse.

In the aftermath of the Cumbria floods, which dominated the news before Christmas, at the date of this discussion two months on, only a handful of families are back in their homes with more than 1,000 houses still empty.  Most of them will not be able to return until May.  It is essential that people of Cockermouth, Workington and the surrounding areas are not forgotten”.

Quite simply, floods are here to stay.  During the course of the discussion it was reported that government funding for flood and coastal risk management will be £780 million in 2010/2011.  This compares with £310 million in 1997 and 1998, which is thirteen years before.

In view of the 2007 floods do you think the government is taking the situation seriously enough?  Perhaps not.

9th March, 2010

A successful press day!

Posted on 25/02/2010

A successful press day took place on the 23rd February at Hereford, with directors, shareholders and local press and radio reporters present, together with a leading flood barrier products distributor and a potential customer. Once again the system stood up to robust testing rising to protect an inward area to a height of 4ft. 6inches in approximately one hour, thereby simulating flood conditions.

Trials Progressing Near Hereford

Posted on 12/02/2010

Following the success at the October Interbuild 2009 NEC exhibition, trials of a large prototype of the HiBar Flood Systems Ltd. barrier are nearing completion on a Tarmac Plc site near Hereford. This unique barrier concept harnesses the power of the floodwater itself to raise the barrier/skirt around a house. No external power is needed to do this, and the housing trench for the concertina style battens at rest can be less than 2 ft. deep, well above gas and electricity services. When not deployed, the barrier is unobtrusive, appearing simply like a path), which should please planning authorities, and will have a 20 year life, supported by warranty. Commercial applications will follow, and the first overseas visitors to the site on the 1st February were able to see the barrier rise to its maximum prototype height of 4 ft. 6 inches (135 cm). Some 4% of U.K. properties face major flood risk. 180,000 homes were flooded in 2007, and the average flood insurance claim was £18,000. Properties flood blighted are generally estimated to have their value reduced by 15%, and take an extra four months to sell. Viewings will start in February 2010 by prior arrangement. For further details telephone 01432-370215 or 01686-668336.

SIR MICHAEL PITT PUBLISHES FINAL REPORT: 'LEARNING LESSONS FROM THE 2007 FLOODS'

Posted on 03/10/2008

Sir Michael Pitt today called for urgent and fundamental changes in the way the country is adapting to the increased risk of flooding and called on the Government to set out publicly how it will make rapid progress, and be held to account, on improving the country’s flood resilience.

Publishing his Independent Review into the floods of 2007, one of the widest ranging policy reviews of our time, Sir Michael said: "During the year I have received more than one thousand written submissions from the public, consulted widely and visited communities to see for myself the extraordinary hardship so many families across the country are facing. It is unacceptable that one year on, thousands of people remain in temporary accommodation. "Research published as part of my report today shows that the risk of flooding continues to escalate; making the events that shattered so many communities last year an ever increasing threat. I urge the Government to show leadership and urgently set out the process and timescale for improving resilience in the UK. The recommendations in my report are realistic and affordable and should be made a priority. Waiting for another serious event is a dangerous ‘strategy of luck’; we need to act now to protect our future." The Government should:

  • Establish a Cabinet Committee dedicated to tackling the risk of flooding, bringing flooding in line with other major risks such as pandemic flu and terrorism;
  • Publish monthly summaries of progress during the recovery phase of major flooding events, including number of households still displaced;
  • Ensure proper resourcing of flood resilience measures, with above inflation increases every spending review;
  • Establish a National Resilience Forum to facilitate national level planning for flooding and other emergencies;
  • Have pre planned, rather than ad hoc, financial arrangements in place for responding to the financial burden of exceptional emergencies;
  • Publish an action plan to implement the recommendations in this review, with regular progress updates.
Sir Michael also expressed concerns about the quality and availability of flood risk information currently available to emergency responders and the public: "We need to be more willing to tell people the truth about risk. The current lack of clarity and transparency has the potential to put not only people’s homes, but lives in jeopardy.