When it pours, confusion reigns

Article date: 5 March 2003

Homeowners are fearful of the increased risk of flooding in theUK but admit they are baffled by information available to them, newresearch reveals today.

One in five Brits has been or knows someone who have beenaffected by flooding and almost a third worry more about floodingthan they did 12 months ago.

Yet more than 90 per cent of homeowners in some of thecountry’s highest flood risk areas admit they haven’ttaken even the simplest of steps to protect their property –such as moving valuables upstairs – and say they don’treally know what measures they can take.

Norwich Union’s "Flood Fear Forecast" study reveals anation waking up to the increased threat from flooding. Accordingto the Environment Agency, two million homes and 185,000 businessesin England and Wales are now at risk.* They also predict that thereis likely to be a ten fold increase in the risk of flooding overthe next century.

The insurer commissioned research amongst 2,200 residents acrossthe country, including 1,200 residents in some of thenation’s flood-risk areas.

The study also revealed:

  • Many homeowners are confused about the information availableon floods. Three-quarters of people who live in high risk areassaid there are no flood defences in place or planned for thefuture to protect their property
  • Nearly 70 per cent do not think that flood defences provideadequate protection against flooding
  • 77 per cent of people are worried that not enough is beingbeen done about flooding and sufficient progress hasn’t beenmade by Government in the past 12 months
  • To help avoid confusion and really understand the risk offlood, the majority of people (more than 90 per cent) say moreinformation should be made available to potential home buyers
  • One in five people in high flood risk areas have or wouldconsider joining a local action group to lobby the Governmentabout flooding

John Smeaton, head of property underwriting for Norwich Union,said: “Britain needs to adapt to the danger of floodingbecause the scale of the problem in recent years has escalated tounprecedented levels.

“Whilst progress has been made by the Government, floodingis still a real risk to the UK as many thousands of homeowners haveunfortunately found out in the last few years. It’sunderstandable that people feel confused and concerned. But theycan take steps to help protect their homes from flooding, as wellas lobby for change in their area.”

Through its "Home and Dry" pack, Norwich Union is encouragingproperty owners and tenants - both flood victims and people livingin high risk areas – to join the fight against floods andform their own action groups.

Norwich Union’s free "Home and Dry" action pack includesinformation about:

  • where responsibility lies locally and centrally for flood andcoastline defences
  • the role of a local flood action group, and an example of onein action
  • how to set up a local flood action group and attractmembers
  • how to contact local MPs/MSPs and other official bodies
  • dealing with the media
  • useful contact numbers and practical tips on what to do in theevent of a flood

Peter Barnett, chairman of the National Flood Forum, said:“This research shows that one in five residents have alreadyjoined or would consider joining a local flood action group. Ourexperience shows that, collectively, people can make a realdifference at a local level. Therefore we continue to campaign toencourage homeowners to form action groups in the fight for flooddefences in their area.

“We believe the best way for local communities to mitigatethe effects of flooding is to work in co-operation with the variousagencies that are involved at local and national level. NorwichUnion’s campaign helps communities understand the need foractive local participation and we support thisinitiative.”

For a free copy of Norwich Union’s "Home and Dry" actionpack, call 0800 093 0303. More information is also available athttp://www.norwichunion.com/home_and_dry


Media contacts:

Matt Buchanan, Anick Purmessur, Marie-Claire Rees at QBO BellPottinger on 020 7861 2424 or Liz Kennett at Norwich Union PressOffice on 08703 666683

Notes to Editors:

Norwich Union commissioned research amongst 2,200 adults acrossthe country, including 1,200 residents in eight key flood-riskareas. Interviews took place between 5-18 February 2003

* Source: Environment Agency "Flood Facts", September 2002

Norwich Union has been involved in a number of initiatives tohelp find solutions to problems of flooding. For example, theinsurer has commissioned a digital map of Britain to help pinpointand understand exactly which areas of the country are at risk fromriver flooding. The map will be used to provide more accuratepremiums for individual homes and businesses according to theirrisk of flood.

Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16 per cent and is more than 1.5 times the size ofits nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.

It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:

  • one in five households
  • one in five motor vehicles
  • more than 700,000 businesses

Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners such asbanks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.

  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at www.aviva.com
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at www.newscast.co.uk
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality interviews.Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68

For all life & pensions media enquiries 08703 66 68 73
For all other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

The National Flood Forum was started in 2002 by people affectedby flooding and is building a national network of community floodgroups. The Forum offers support and information to both groups andindividuals, and will help people to form a flood group.

The National Flood Forum, 5 Beale's Corner, Bewdley, Worcs DY121AF. Tel: 01299 403055. Media contact: Di Keal on 01653 694546,e-mail: di.keal@floodforum.org.uk

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