Householders are yet to take climate-ready action on their homes

Two people ride bicycles through a flooded street
  • More than a third of UK adults (37%) think that their home is at risk of flooding.1
  • But two thirds (67%) haven’t put any measures in place to make their homes more resilient to flooding.
  • 80% feel it is important (50% “very important”) to make sure properties are built to be resilient to flooding.
  • 59% say flooding is the biggest climate change consideration when selecting a new home.
  • 55% are worried about the financial impacts of extreme weather but one in five (21%) say they do not have home insurance (buildings or contents).

More than a third (37%) of UK adults believe their homes are at risk of flooding yet two-thirds (67%) haven’t put any flood resilience measures in place, research from Aviva’s second Building Future Communities Report shows.

Flooding is the biggest climate change consideration when selecting a new home – more than half (59%) of UK adults are most concerned about this, compared to subsidence (40%) and excess heat (31%).

Meanwhile, the majority (80%) of UK residents feel it is important (50% “very important”) to make sure properties are built to be resilient to flooding.

One in five properties in England are currently at risk of flooding1, with flood impacts likely to increase in future. The Environment Agency has predicted a 59% increase in winter rainfall by 2050 and that once-a-century sea level flooding events could become annual by 2100.2

Analysis in Aviva’s new Building Future Communities report found that a flood event could lead to 750mm of flood water in a home without resilience measures, which would cause homeowners to move out for a considerable period.  The analysis, conducted with Aviva’s claims data, looked at two 1930s homes, one with resilience measures and the other without.

With simple flood resilience measures in place, the depth of flood water reduced by 64% to just 20-30mm – which in many cases is the difference between having to move out or being able to stay in a home.

Building Future Communities also found that failing to protect a house from flooding could have an enormous carbon footprint when restoring the property: 13.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to six and a half return transatlantic flights.

Financially unprepared for climate change

The research also uncovered the extent to which a large proportion of UK adults are financially unprepared for the impact of climate change on their home.

Although 55% of people are worried about the financial impacts of extreme weather (e.g. property damage), one in five (21%) UK adults say they do not have home insurance (buildings or contents).

This is significantly higher among private renters (38%) and those in social housing (44%). Only 4% of those who own their home outright say the same.

Simple flood resilience measures can have an enormous, beneficial impact and can mean the difference between having to move out or being able to stay in your home.

Households do recognise the long-term effects of climate change. Two thirds (65%) of UK adults believe that climate change will have an impact on their home in the next 10 years – and nearly half (45%) said there will be an impact in the next 12 months.

Adam Winslow, Chief Executive Officer of Aviva UK & Ireland General Insurance, said: “When a home floods, there’s not just a financial cost for the people who live there. There is also an emotional cost that comes with seeing treasured possessions being damanged by flood water,  as well as living in temporary accommodation while the home is being restored.

“Some people worry that flood resilience measures may to be too obvious or unsightly, but most are unobtrusive and easy to action.

“Simple flood resilience measures can have an enormous, beneficial impact and can mean the difference between having to move out or being able to stay in your home.

“Installing property flood resilience measures such as fitting non-return valves on toilets, raising electrical sockets and raising up appliances such as TV’s, fridges and cookers can all help to protect homes and possessions.

“It’s also essential that we take action to make properties more climate-ready to ensure that we minimise the carbon impact of a restoring a home, which is an essential part of how we respond to climate change.”

Top tips for householders to help them minimise flood damage to their homes:

  • Keep important or sentimental items upstairs
  • Store items on low shelves in baskets that can be easily moved
  • Move electrical items upstairs or as high as you can get so they don’t get damaged by flood water or become an electrocution risk
  • Carpets can be expensive to repair, consider replacing them with tiles, solid wood, or concrete flooring instead
  • If you are replacing your kitchen, one with free-standing kitchen units on legs could stay safe from floodwater
  • Floodgates can be designed to fit your doors and windows, and provide an air-tight barrier against flood water. They are often quick and easy to install, but can be expensive
  • If you are considering changing your driveway, consider porous materials like gravel or grass
  • Replace airbricks with self-closing airbricks
  • Have a plumber add a non-return valve to your toilets and sinks

Aviva’s calls for change

In the second Building Future Communities report, Aviva has issued Seven Calls for Change to help tackle the risks of climate change. More information and a copy of Aviva’s second ‘Building Future Communities’ report can be found at Building Future Communities report 2023 - Aviva

Sources

1.  Aviva Flood Mapping Data, 2021

2. Environment Agency, ‘Planning for Flood-Resilient Places’, 2021

Media enquiries

Diane Mangan

General Insurance Lead

Fiona Murphy

Protection, Health and Regulation

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