Severe winter flood could cost UK over £1bn in insurance losses – PwC

New analysis shows that a flood as extensive as 2015’s Storm Desmond, Eva or Frank would result in insurance losses of up to £1.6bn in today’s terms according to PwC. Despite protection from schemes such as Flood Re, restrictions – which apply to commercial properties, homes built from 1 January 2009, and blocks of more than three residential flats – would mean that these groups may still be at risk of adverse weather conditions.

The research comes as the British Red Cross warns that one in seven UK households do not hold building or content insurance. Over the last decade, the most costly floods in terms of insurance costs occurred during the winter of 2015-16 which saw Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank impact homes and businesses across the UK.

In February 2022, Storm Eunice saw estimated losses of £200m to £350m based on the high winds which led to damage to homes and commercial buildings plus extensive travel disruptions. Despite expectations that Storm Eunice would be severe, the strongest gusts severely impacted coastal areas as well as caused travel disruption with airlines and train operators cancelling services. The damage from Storm Eunice was mainly in respect of damage to homes, commercial properties and vehicles from falling trees and flying debris.

Mohammad Khan, general insurance leader at PwC UK, said: “We've been somewhat fortunate that the warmer autumn has held back some of the more impactful weather events, however as we approach the end of the year it's likely that we will see an uptick in extreme weather. Our analysis shows that losses from previous storms and floods in today's terms would have caused significant repercussions resulting in costs hitting over one billion pounds.

“Thankfully, households in most at-risk flood zones have been able to obtain more affordable insurance, which protects them against flood risk, via Flood Re. However, Flood Re – due to restrictions that were put in when it was set up – does not reinsure commercial properties, homes built from 1 January 2009, and blocks of more than three residential flats.

“Many houses and flats built since 2009 are susceptible to flooding and it's imperative that policyholders, communities, government and the industry come together to ensure that we do all we can to ensure that households are well equipped to cope with both current and future flood risks.”

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