Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a flood of warnings come out about the pace and potential impact of climate change. From Greta Thumberg’s impassioned speech at the UN to the UN’s report of faster than expected sea level rises owing to losses of polar ice all made for sobering reading.
Now, regardless of your stance on the climate change and its causes – be you advocate or sceptic – it can be easy to think of the effects as being remote and far removed from day-to-day life. When it comes to rising sea levels though the population and businesses of Hull need to take it very seriously and take it seriously now. Why? Well, let’s not forget that 90% of Hull lies below the high tide level so any marked change in base level (the overall level of the sea) could be devastating. And that’s not all. Climate scientists say that as the climate warms so our weather will get wetter and warmer. This means the chances of the devastating floods we endured in 2007 and 2013 could become something that we will see again. Even as I look out of my window in our offices in Hessle I can see all the cars from the nearby dealerships have once again been moved as we await the heavy rain and tides that have prompted flood warnings.
Hull: The New Atlantis?
Experts have even gone as far as to question whether Hull has a future. Dr Hugh Ellis, head of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “We need to think about moving populations … We need to be thinking: does Hull have a future?”
Preventative actions are being taken. In 2015 the £6.6m Albert Dock flood defences were completed and helped to protect 300 homes and businesses from danger. And ‘The Humber: Hull Frontage’ scheme is a £42 million flood defence scheme to upgrade the defences along the edge of the Humber Estuary to protect the city of Hull from tidal flooding come 2021. But in the meantime we as home owners, landlords and commercial property owners would be wise to take precautions ourselves – especially given the great flood of 2007 was rain-fed rather than tidal-borne. As you can see from the government’s flood warning map, the risks are sizeable:
Key: The darker the shade of blue, the greater the risk
In this latest blog from Coversure Hull – Hull’s leading insurance brokers – we’ll look at some of the actions you can take now to protect your home and business from flooding. We’ll also give you some advice on getting the affordable flood risk property insurance you need in case the worst does come to the worst.
We hope this post will be of interest. If you would like some personalised advice as to how you can insure your property against the ravages of flooding, then please get in touch. You can call us on Hull (01482) 43 43 43, email Coversure Hull here or read about our flood-risk property insurance policy here.
How To Protect Your Property From Flooding
You can no more stop flooding than you can stop rain from being wet. There are, however, some simple steps you can take to limit the damage to your property should it happen. Doing so can help minimise disruption, damage and even help you get cheaper flood insurance. To help you do this here’s Coversure Hull’s 3 step plan effective for property protection:
- Step 1: Check If You Are In A Flood Zone* – Hull has been built on a floodplain and, as we saw in 2007, even areas away from the river can flood. The risk of flooding will vary though so your first port of call should be to check your level of risk. The government have a free and easy to use flood map service that you can access here, it’ll show whether you’re in a flood zone and nearby areas that could affect you
- Step 2: Sign Up For Flood Warnings* – flooding used to be unpredictable and often caught people out. These days institutions like the Environment Agency and the government have a free to use flood warning scheme. The local media are also much better at getting the word out so keep an ear open for news and take precautions accordingly
- Step 3: Protect Your Property** – keeping water out or at least limiting its entry and effect is possible. If your property is at risk then try and:
- Fit flood-proof or barricade doors – doors are the first point of entry so if the risk is high then consider getting these fitted. If you’re unable to gain a flood proof door, you can purchase removable barriers which can be used during the potential flood months to help keep the floods at bay
- Flood-proof windows – the second point of entry for water is your windows. Again, similar to doors you can get flood-proof windows and attachable barriers that will act as an effective barrier to letting water into your property
- * Block air bricks and low-level vents – often located low down on the building, it’s essential that these are covered or better still replaced with modern, flood-proof versions. This is a relatively cheap way to get good levels of protection
- Have sandbags handy – these low-tech defences remain extremely effective, cheap and easy to apply
- Fit non-return valves on drains and pipes – this will help prevent sewage from flowing back through pipes from toilets and sinks
- Step 4: Get flood insurance cover* – while prevention is better than cure, some things just can’t be prevented and this where flood insurance comes in. Flood cover will need to be included as part of your buildings and contents insurance, as it will be able to affect both areas and you need to make sure that:
- Your buildings cover is set accurately – you cover needs to high enough to cover not just repairs but a complete rebuild – such can be the devastating effects of flooding. Even superficial-looking damage can cause significant problems that can require extensive repair work in unseen areas such as joists, brickwork and foundations. If your flood insurance isn’t at an adequate level, you could be underinsured and at risk of being out of pocket when you need it the most
- Ensure you have enough contents cover – underinsurance is a big problem with around 20% of properties having insufficient levels of cover. Should the worst come to the worst you don’t want to find your insurance leaving you high and dry while your contents go sailing down the river…
- Step 5: Make sure you have business interruption cover – if you have a commercial property, a shop or you earn an income from it as a landlord, the you’d be well advised to have business interruption cover. In Hull where commercial property abounds close to the Humber and is therefore at a higher risk, this is a particular problem. Business interruption protection will ensure you have an income should you be able to trade or charge rent as your business is out of action.
How To Save On Flood Insurance
Getting cover can be expensive and the costs are likely to rise as the risk of flooding rises. There have already been warnings from some insurers in particularly high-risk areas that cover may become impossible to get. Taking the precautions listed above can help reduce the cost and availability of cover and you should also look to:
- Shop around* – premiums can vary significantly depending on an insurer’s appetite for the risk. Use an independent broker with a specialism in property protection – such as Coversure Hull – and you may be able to save a significant sum
- Do your homework and present evidence* – insurers are likely to assess risk on postcodes and these can, in some cases, tar all properties with the same brush. If your property sits on a rise, is well-set back from street or has extra defences installed these can help prove your risk to be lower
- Store contents securely* – if you can show that you can store contents or stock somewhere secure – an upper story or in another location that’s not in a flood risk – this can also help reduce costs
Like Some More Help Protecting Your Property In Hull?
Owning a property in Hull means living with the risk of flooding – a risk that looks set to rise. Flood defences such as The Humber: Hull Frontage will help with tidal flooding but rain-borne disasters are trickier to combat. Hull is a great city with a lot to offer, but like anywhere it has its downsides and this is one of them.
If you would like some personalised advice as to how you can insure your property against the ravages of flooding, then please get in touch. You can call us on Hull (01482) 43 43 43, email us here or read about our flood-risk property insurance policy here.