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At the end of last year we issued an opinion piece about the Property Flood Resilience Action Plan, also known as the Bonfield Report, which was officially launched on 20th October. Dr Peter Bonfield was appointed by Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environmental and Rural Affairs to bring commercial interests together in a Roundtable to consider how collectively they could encourage and enable a better uptake of resilience measures for properties at high risk of flood.
The Action Plan identified the reasons why people do not consistently prepare their properties for flooding, and then determined what could be done to address the challenges. The Roundtable set in motion some tangible actions and made some high level recommendations for both Government and the business world.
In this article we update you on the actions we have taken to offer a Property Flood Resilience service and how we plan to develop it further over the next few months.
The Action Plan
The Action Plan sets out a vision for the future, together with recommendations. There will always be some properties that will be prone to flooding and the Roundtable has said it would like to see:
The Report’s recommendations were:
A strong partnership between insurers, surveyors, the legal profession, materials producers and the government, to encourage and enable the take up of flood resilient measures and more flood resilient behaviour by householders and small businesses, including preparation for future flood events.
Property Level Resilience
Property Level Resilience (PLR) measures include installing flood doors, flood barriers, air brick covers, pointing or waterproofing brickwork, installing non-return valves and moving vulnerable features such as utility meters and electrical sockets to a more suitable height. A package of measures should prevent water entering a house or should minimise the impact if water enters the house, speeding up the recovery process. Sometimes the water should be let in; for floods over 60cm depth, or of prolonged duration, attempting to keep the water out can cause serious structural damage due to the unequal water pressure either side of the walls.
The typical range of measures have a cost-benefit ratio in excess of £5 for every £1 invested in terms of reduced damages and the Action Plan gives several examples of where Flood Resilience measures have been highly effective.
The take up of flood resilient measures seems to be low because of a lack of information or incentive for property owners. Sometimes property owners don’t know they are at risk of flooding, or think that a flood event they have just had is a one-off event. Many people also assume that only the authorities can manage flood risk and very few are aware of the grant schemes in place to help fund flood resilience measures.
Cost effective measures
Many flood resilience measures are very cost effective and would add little to the cost of property reinstatement, but save thousands on the next flood event. The ABI and National Flood Forum have issued a Flood Resilient Homes leaflet with figures that show how little extra needs to be spent during a property reinstatement to make a home more flood resilient.
For example, for a three bedroom semi-detached house, mounting a boiler on a wall above flood level would cost an extra £150 but would save about £700 on the next flood event. Replacing mineral insulation within walls with closed cell insulation would cost £270 more, but would save £360 next time the property floods. Moving electrics well above flood levels would cost about £375 more but save £425.
Impact on insurers and brokers
Obviously the increasing number of floods and their related costs are a challenge for the insurance industry, a challenge that isn’t just a result of climate change. More properties are being built on flood plains and more gardens and town centres are being concreted over, removing the natural soak-aways that existed and over-loading the drains and sewer systems.
There has been criticism of insurers for failing to make properties flood-proof when rebuilding them for flooded homeowners. Insurers reinstate a property to its pre-claim condition, but this often means merely replacing out-of-date or unsuitable fittings or buildings – the defects that led to the properties being vulnerable in the first place. Paul Cobbing, head of charity the National Flood Forum, said “We should be reducing risk with rebuilding. Insurance companies need to be more flexible. Small things, like installing different cavity wall insulation and plug sockets, would reduce costs for everyone.”
The Action Plan does not say that insurers should be funding flood resilience measures. However, it does say that those involved in property insurance need to do more to help home owners in flood risk properties. The Report has identified changes in behaviour that are needed to improve the uptake of property level resistance. Not surprisingly, much of this behavioural change is needed in the insurance industry:
Community understanding – if flood resilience measures were viewed as a “social norm” similar to smoke detectors for example, flood resilience measures would be more common. Our new proposition is supporting property owners by explaining the advantages and guiding them towards grants that are available to help them make their properties more flood resistant.
In our view, once a flood has happened, a better service and more support needs to be given to home owners from the start. From the moment a surveyor or loss adjuster arrives on site, the home owner should be given information about how to reduce flood risk in the future – from the range of flood resilience measures available to the grants that can be secured.
The reinstatement works should include planning for the installation of flood resilience measures whether funded by the insurer or not. And the claims management process should include support and help on securing the appropriate grants and providing access to experts who can advise on the best measures to be put in place.
And even before a flood takes place insurers and brokers should be contacting home owners at risk of flooding to offer advice and support to minimise the impact of floods in the future.
A complete flood resilience solution
Our previous opinion piece suggested how a complete flood resilience solution could be developed to help insurers find a way to improve the uptake of flood resilience measures by home owners. We recommended the following actions and behavioural changes:
Since then we have worked with Aquobex to deliver a solution that addresses at least three of these recommendations:
The Aquobex – MA Assist partnership
Aquobex is a well-established flood management solutions business. With 50 years’ of combined experience and expertise in the industry, Aquobex provides flood resistance (dry-proofing) and resilience (wet-proofing) solutions for homes, businesses, communities and infrastructure.
Aquobex are pioneers of new approaches to flood management and are experts for developing solutions for retrofit, reinstatment and new build properties that are recognised by mainstream insurers and specialist brokers. Their clients include local authorities, housing associations, private home owners and insurance and financial groups.
Aquobex and MA Assist have teamed up to provide a flood solution that fits in with the recommendations set out in the Action Plan – to help those with a high flood risk get the knowledge, capability and means to adapt their properties in ways that limit the physical damage of flooding, and speed up their recovery. We hope to support progress towards developing the systems and practices within the insurance sector that normalise the uptake of property level resilience within existing activity.
Our service includes the following elements:
The MA Assist network of contractors has been trained to install the following flood resistant products:
Floodguards® provide the first protective flood door barrier to enter the market and achieve Kitemark accreditation in the year 2000, having since been installed across the UK in over 3,000 properties. The demountable flood barrier provides the same protection as a permanent barrier, but has the distinct advantage of being fully removable when not required.
Built with an arched dam design, the flood defence’s protective seal becomes stronger, the more pressure is applied from rising floodwater levels.
BSI Kitemarked Flood Safety Door features an innovative, patented design with ISISTechnology™ISIS Technology™ ensures the flood door acts as a barrier up to a predetermined height, and then allows floodwater to enter the building in order to maintain the structural integrity and avoid the potential collapsing of walls. Integral to the design are a number of safety mechanisms that ensure the door cannot be opened under flood conditions – a key factor in the prevention of injury to occupants.
With a patented adjustment system, Floodgate is unique in that it does not require any permanent fittings to a property, and with no need for preparation, is extremely quick to position.
Featuring a blue neoprene cover, the floodgate simply screws into place using an integral scissors jack that expands the unit into the gap of a doorway. Similar screw-down bolts achieve a watertight seal along its base.
The Floodtite barrier features a U-shaped back frame design fitted around a door or window opening, with the ability to be painted to match the surrounding wall colouring. A lightweight structure, the flood barrier is easily applied to a back-frame and screwed into place using 6 handles.
Providing the same protection as a permanent flood defence, but with the distinct advantage of being fully removable when not in use, this demountable floodgate solution can be installed.
Slot-in barriers are extremely versatile in their range of modular heights, with aluminium beams and a simplistic design suitable for most doorways, windows, pedestrian walkways, loading bays, shop fronts and more. Carrying handles allow the flood defence to be quickly and easily raised in the event of flood risk.
The FTECH slot-in barrier is ideal for openings of up to 11m and the IBS slot-in barrier is suitable for wide openings such as garages.
The training has been provided by an independent organisation, Property Care Association (PCA). The PCA is the Trade Association representing the property care industry and, like MA Assist, is a TrustMark approved scheme operator. PCA is the leading training provider in the UK for building preservation, waterproofing, remedial treatments and invasive weed control.
The next stage
Later in the year we will be launching the next phase of our proposition which will involve more flood resilience products and services, such as:
We will bring you more details of these new initiatives later in the year.
In the meantime, if you would like to know more about how we can help your customers make their properties more flood resilient, then please get in touch.
Alex Kilpatrick Group Sales & Marketing Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Jorge Gonzalo MA Assist Managing Director email@example.com