One in six properties are said to be at risk of some type of flooding; and over half of those are at risk of surface water flooding. In the light of changes in the flood insurance market (and mortgage lenders’ standard requirements) it is essential to know the potential risk to your property.
In the past flood risk has often been overlooked unless there has been recent active flooding or the property is located in an area known or likely to be prone to flooding. If a property is at risk of flooding it may be difficult to: obtain a mortgage, obtain suitable insurance cover, or even sell the property because the marketability and the value of the property may be adversely affected.
The market for flood insurance has been undergoing major change and the insurance industry are trying to move towards a risk-based pricing structure in which each insurer would decide for itself which types of property it wants to insure and how much it will want to charge. The insurance companies may also add a higher excess to the policy or they may insist that conditions are placed on the policy requiring flood protection measures to be taken if cover is to be maintained; such measures can be very expensive. Therefore, insurance is likely to become more expensive for properties at risk and properties with a high risk may even be uninsurable.
In light of the above it is vital that adequate due diligence is carried out and, save in exceptional circumstances, we would recommend obtaining a Flood Search when purchasing a property. These are now readily available and provide an indication as to whether there is a low, medium or high risk of flooding. The report should include information on coastal and river flood risk, surface water (pluvial) flood risk and ground water flood risk; as well as risks from more unusual sources such as flood storage areas. The reports are inexpensive and provide valuable information. For the moment, they also confirm whether or not insurance cover is likely to be readily available; although we would always recommend you obtain formal quotes regardless.
If you would like advice on any aspect of property law, please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) please contact a member of our Property team.