Rory Gibson looks at the measures homeowners and businesses can take to reduce flood risk this winter
Flood risks are on the increase, driven largely by the impact of climate change and increasing urbanisation.
The cold, wet and unpredictable weather that comes with winter further amplifies these risks.
According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), an estimated 284,000 homes, businesses and services across Scotland at risk of flooding and research from Heriot-Watt University revealed flood events could increase by a third (30-34 per cent) by 2080.
There are a growing number of products available to keep flood water out of homes, such as flood boards, flood proof doors or barriers, sandbags, air-brick covers, and flood resilience measures can be taken, including the use of sump pump systems, water compatible walls and floors, raised electrics, plinths for electrical goods and flood alarm systems.
When it comes to cover, the government’s Flood RE initiative helps provide some protection for homeowners in high-risk areas, with the scheme’s aim to make flood cover more accessible and affordable.
There are also non-traditional insurance products coming to market, which can be a lifeline for homeowners and businesses struggling to obtain or afford insurance.
Parametric insurance is a non-traditional insurance product that offers pre-specified payouts based upon a ‘trigger event’, where the water reaches a certain height, rather than a certain amount of damage being caused.
Once flood water reaches a certain depth, there is an automatic pay-out, and as the insurance payout is pre-agreed by policy holder and insurer, costs are kept at a minimum.
This is not only helping risks where traditional flood cover is not available but saves policy holders money and time as there is no protracted legal wrangling or wait time for pay-outs.
Anyone who is in an area that is flood exposed should think about putting a flood strategy in place and creating a flood resilience plan. Furthermore, a mitigation survey can determine what can be done to reduce exposure to flood damage, confirm existing flood measures have been fitted correctly, and, in turn, potentially positively impact premiums.
Finally, and most importantly, if in doubt, seek specialist help.