Norwich Union's revolutionary flood map begins roll-out

Article date: 3 March 2004

More than 600,000 properties* in flood risk areas could nowqualify for insurance thanks to the launch of a revolutionary floodmap of the UK.

The new digital map, developed by Norwich Union, is the largestand most accurate ever undertaken in Britain and is being used topinpoint the risk of river flooding to individual properties.

And for the five million people living or working in flood riskareas** across the UK, this means more accurate premiums and abetter understanding of the risk to their property.

Norwich Union is one of the first insurers to set premiums basedon a particular address rather than just a postcode band, for bothresidential and commercial properties. As well as showing whether aproperty is at risk, the map shows how often a flood is likely tooccur and to what depth.

The multi-million pound project is initially launching in partsof Shropshire and Norfolk and will be rolled out across the UK,starting with high-risk flood areas. It is anticipated that theproject will be completed by the end of 2004.

Shropshire has been selected as a key launch area following thedevastating floods of October 2000 and ongoing flood risk. Norfolkwas chosen because of the continued risk to properties on low-lyingland.

And the insurer believes that more people are likely to benefitfrom the flood map because in some cases it may indicate that theirproperty isn’t in fact at risk or won’t flood as oftenas previously thought.

Laurence Loughnane, head of underwriting at Norwich Union, said:"Although insurance companies can’t stop properties beingflooded, we believe we have a responsibility to ensure flood riskis calculated as accurately as possible. Norwich Union has beenleading the flooding education and lobbying programme over the pastfew years and has always been striving for better information aboutthe risk to homes and businesses, and this project represents ourfurther commitment.

"Because of the level of detail provided by the map, people whopreviously thought their property was uninsurable could now obtaincover. The ability to pinpoint whether an individual house is on ahill or raised ground, and how floodwaters will flow, is invaluablein the fight against flood damage. The new information will help toconvey to customers just how severe the flooding risk to theirproperty will be and how often a flood can be expected."

In the past, one of the major obstacles to better floodprediction has been the lack of detailed and accurate informationon the height of land surrounding rivers. The Norwich Union floodmap has been specially commissioned to make use of the latesttechnology to help tackle this obstacle.

Norwich Union worked with Intermap to collect data using anairborne radar system, to produce the Digital Elevation Model– which shows the height of the ground above sea level. Thiswas combined with a software model provided by JBA Consulting toproduce the final map showing where floods are likely to occur, howthey can spread and how far they can extend.

Gill Holland, operations director for the National Flood Forum,said: "New data that better informs people about the risks offlooding is essential. The mapping will not prevent the emotionalstress and trauma caused by actual floods, but will help thosecommunities where only a small number of houses and businesses areaffected by flooding, but the entire postcode area has effectivelybeen denied insurance."

"When you consider that more than £200 billion of property, landand assets are at risk of flooding, the need for accurate anddetailed information is crucial. The wetter winters that arepredicted as a result of climate change may double the frequency ofinland floods within the next fifty years."

Information from the flood map will be used to make changes toexisting customers’ premiums as their policies are renewed.New customers should call Norwich Union Direct on 0800 092 9561 orspeak to their insurance broker. More information about the floodmap is available by e-mailing


Download the presentation of the digital flood map

Media contacts:
Charlotte Speedy, Matt Buchanan or Charlotte Ruddlesdin at QBO BellPottinger on: 020 7861 2424
Liz Kennett at Norwich Union on 01603 688 263 or 07801 901 666

Notes to editors:

*Figure = Estimate of how many more properties that NorwichUnion believes it can offer insurance to in future due toinformation from the flood map.

** Environment Agency

Norwich Union is a sponsor of the Ideal Home Show, which istaking place at Earls Court, London from 10 March to 14 April2004.

Further information about:


  • Intermap is building an unprecedented database, calledNEXTMap, of highly accurate digital topographic maps (includingelevation). Customers purchase Intermap's high-quality, low costdata to facilitate better decision-making for numerous commercial,governmental, military and consumer applications.

JBA Consulting

  • JBA Consulting undertakes specialised work on flood defencemanagement, river engineering and geographical information systemsthroughout the UK and overseas.

HR Wallingford

  • HR Wallingford is the leading specialist organisation in theUK for hydraulics in civil engineering. HR Wallingford developedthe method for predicting flood levels for the flood mapping whichhas been implemented by JBA Consulting.
  • The Norwich Union flood map was verified by HRWallingford.

Norwich Union

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14 per cent. With a focus on insurance for individualsand small businesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • more than 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality broadcast -call the press office on 01603 683820

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