Winter 2002

Flood Risk and Insurance

Article by Graham Lymbery, Project Leader Coast Defence, Sefton MBC

A number of residents in Sefton have contacted the Council with regard to their household insurance, when renewing their insurance they have been concerned by large increases in the premium and references to them living in flood risk areas. In the past insurance companies have tended to apply a flat rate to all properties so that the risk from flooding has been spread over everyone's premiums, this is changing, particularly in response to the significant flood events we have had over the past 5 years. Many insurance companies are now basing their decisions on whether or not a property has a history of flooding or is at risk of flooding, often using the indicative floodplain mapping supplied by the Environment Agency (available at These maps use information currently available, based on historical flood records and geographical models. They indicate where flooding from rivers, streams, watercourses or the sea, is possible. However, the maps do not show flood defences, which offer vital protection in many areas. Flood forecasting is not a precise science and the maps can only give a general indication of risk.

What should you do if you are affected by this?
My advice would be to gain a greater understanding of the situation, have a look at the Environment Agency web site, see if you are covered by the indicative flood plain mapping, but read the notes that back up the mapping so that you understand the limitations. Then have a look at the information that the Association of British Insurers provide ( which should clarify their position. It will be far easier to discuss these issues with your insurer if you have a greater understanding of the situation.