The Beast from the East and beyond: protecting your clients from flooding
Hannah Tasker is development manager for general insurance at Primis mortgage and protection network
The weather is a topic of conversation that everyone is interested in. Whilst a popular theme for small talk, it is also a much wider issue for those in the mortgage and insurance markets.
Whether it is deemed too hot or too cold, it seems that there are only a few days in the British summer where we are actually satisfied with the weather conditions.
The aptly named ‘Beast from the East’ storm during March this year caused widespread disruption across the UK, with the unexpected snow, high winds and freezing temperatures testing infrastructure and causing many towns and cities to grind to a halt.
For homeowners, especially those living near rivers or in coastal areas, changes in weather can have catastrophic results, including loss of possessions and even loss of life.
Recent studies estimate that over the next 80 years, half of the cities in the British Isles could see a 50% increase in peak river flows, with 85% of cities with a river predicted to experience increased flooding. Among the worst affected will be Newcastle and Carlisle.
Whilst long-term plans for these weather changes involve redesigning cities to cope with the increasing weather pressures, flooding is already causing huge issues and therefore needs much shorter-term, often instant, fixes.
As an example, the River Seine in Paris rose more than four metres above its normal water level earlier this year and recent flooding in Scotland has bought with it the worst damage in a century. It is clear that severe weather conditions are causing major damage to properties across Europe and this is an issue that homeowners should be considering when they look at their insurance needs.
Brokers should also be using seasonal shifts in the weather as a prime opportunity to check their clients are appropriately covered, should they be affected by flooding.
Appropriate cover in this context will mean that a customer’s possessions and property is covered should flooding or water damage occur. At the beginning of the home buying process, it is important to ensure a flood risk report is carried out to assess the likelihood of flood damage on the property.
It’s a requirement by lenders that building, and contents cover is arranged as part of the property purchase process, but it is the broker that is in the ideal position to advise on the right cover for their client.
Homeowners should check that flood cover is part of their policy, but brokers can help in identifying the right insurance provision.
We believe it is the moral obligation of a broker, and the industry, to ensure the customer is properly protected and that they understand the products available, and why they are needed. We provide our brokers with the content and tools to ensure these conversations are easy to have. Equally importantly, these policies should be reviewed regularly – a process that is all too often neglected.
Understandably, when a buyer moves into their new home they have a plethora of purchases to make.
Bills, furniture, council tax are all likely to take priority over insurance policies that they may feel are unnecessary.
However, as the recent Beast from the East has shown – it is something that really needs to be addressed before it’s too late.