Homeowners fear future flooding but fail to take measures to protect their properties

Article date: 9 April 2008

The UK's largest insurer is urging homeowners to protect their properties as new research reveals that those in flood hit areas have done little or nothing to reduce their risk of future damage.

The study by Norwich Union* reveals that 83% of people living in Gloucester, Tewksbury, Hull, Sheffield and Rotherham believe there is nothing they can do to protect their home from flooding. Consequently 95% have not taken any measures that could help prevent or significantly reduce the stress and emotional trauma of a future event.

This is despite the fact that nearly half (43%) of those affected by last summer's floods say their fear of flooding has increased since their experiences and because of global warming.

Many people (46%) said they chose not to make changes to their property because they "wanted their home put back exactly as it was before" and others (45%) believe it wasn't their responsibility, more that it lies with their local authority or the Government.

Norwich Union questioned a total of 1,500 people across the UK and in areas hit by last summer's flooding.  

Other key findings include:

  • Nationally 79% of people mistakenly think there is nothing that can be done to protect homes from flooding other than moving furniture or using sand bags. This figure rises to 83% in flood hit areas
  • Nationally nearly a quarter of the population (23%) say their fear of flooding has increased - this rises to 43% in flood hit areas
  • 31% of people in flood hit areas say they don't know what they can do to protect their home
  • 21% say it is too much hassle and 20% believe it could be too expensive to make their homes flood resilient
  • Only 29% of people living in areas affected by last year's floods think they live in a flood area.

Mary Dhonau, chief executive of the National Flood Forum, says: "Having been flooded myself, I know what an awful experience it can be. The findings of this report have shocked me because there is so much more people can do than using the humble, not to mention, ineffective sandbag. As someone who has witnessed the huge benefits of flood resilient repairs, I'm a huge advocate of taking measures to protect your home.

"Adapting or altering your home can significantly lessen both the practical and emotional impact of flood. Not only can damage to your personal possessions and furnishings be reduced you could be back in your home quicker after a flood if you have to move out at all."

Simon Black, head of flood mapping at Norwich Union, says there is a clear need for more education and understanding about the benefits of flood resistant and resilient measures.

"We believe that everyone has a responsibility to help reduce the risk of flood damage and that includes the government, with continued investment in flood defences, and the home owner.

"While home insurance will protect people from the majority of costs caused by flooding, no insurance policy can replace those significant personal belongings with sentimental value. Similarly no policy will be able to spare families the inconvenience and stress of being forced from their homes while it is being dried out and repaired."

"In addition if home owners can show they have taken steps to protect their properties insurers can take this into account when assessing future premiums and cover."


Press office contacts:

Rebecca Holmes
Norwich Union
Telephone: 01603 685 177 / 07800 690 731
E-mail: Rebecca.l.holmes@norwich-union.co.uk

Emilie Lien
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6421 
E-mail: elien@lexispr.com

Anna Carter
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6431 
E-mail: acarter@lexispr.com

Notes to editors:
Norwich Union helped over 45,000 households and 6,000 businesses as a result of the floods of 2007. The total cost is expected to be £475 million.

*1500 people were questioned by ICM research in February 2008.  Respondents were from areas affected by the 2007 summer floods (Gloucester, Tewksbury, Hull, Sheffield and Rotherham) as well as the UK population at large.

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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