Even though the flooding has since ceased, repercussions of this storm are still being felt today: The Association of British Insurers (ABI) expects the pay-outs from the December 2015 storm to reach £1.3 billion. Meanwhile, the Government will spend £2.3 billion over the next six years to strengthen flood defences across the country.
How bad is it?
According to the ABI, £24 million in emergency payments have already been made by insurers across the country as of 11 January 2016—£9 million were paid to domestic claims, while the remaining £15 million were claimed by businesses.
James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said:
“In the immediate aftermath insurers have focused on urgent needs, providing families with somewhere to live and helping businesses into alternative trading premises. They get cash into the hands of those affected so they can buy food and dry clothes. Then, they get the repair process under way as quickly as possible.”
According to the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology over 16,000 households in England alone were affected by the storms ‘Desmond’, ‘Eva’, and ‘Frank’.
The estimate for the average domestic claim, according to the ABI, is £50,000—£19,000 more than the average for the 2013/14 winter storms.
The storms at the latter end of 2015 were by no means the first to affect the UK—in 2012, widespread flooding caused £400 million worth of damage in over 8,000 households. Furthermore, 2014 ABI statistics showed that insurers paid a total of £12.9 million per day in property claims, of which £8.2m was domestic and £4.7m was commercial.
What’s being done about it?
On a local level, households whose homes have suffered serious damage, who were also forced to find a temporary residence while repairs are carried out, receive £500 to help with bills and rent.
In addition, eligible households can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to help with the costs of installing new flood barriers and repairing the damage to their homes.
There is also £2,500 funding provided by local authorities for businesses whose trade was affected by the extreme weather conditions.
Communities affected by the floods will not face Council Tax or business rates bills for the duration that they are out of their homes and businesses.
In a statement released by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs about the National Flood Resilience Review, Oliver Letwin, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as well as chairman of the terms of reference for the review, said:
“This Government is strengthening our country’s flood defences, including spending £2.3bn over the next six years. This new review will make sure communities are as protected as they can be from the kind of extreme weather we saw last December.”
The review aims to assess how the country can improve future flood, as well as other extreme weather, protection. The findings will be published over the summer
What does that mean for buy-to-let properties?
Due to the climate change in recent years, flooding has become a serious issue landlords have had to deal with since they are the ones responsible for maintaining a sound building structure and a valid building insurance policy (the latter however is not required by law).
When considering building insurance, the ABI advises landlords to insure the property against the cost of rebuilding it and not against the sale price or current market value.
The important thing to remember is that if your property is ever flooded there are people and measures in place to help you get back on your feet: from government funds to help with costs, to your letting agent, who can offer you expert advice on what to do next.