The problems of buying a home in a flood prone area
Another example that serves to highlight the difficulties many homeowners in the United Kingdom confront when searching for flood insurance can be seen in the town of St. Asaph in Northern Wales. In November of 2012, the river Elwy burst its banks after a copious amount of rain fell within a very short period of time. As a result, over four hundred homes were flooded. Many residents were forced to evacuate and stay in makeshift council shelters or with their families. The homes themselves were severely damaged; some needing repairs that proved to be financially crippling. In fact, it was weeks and in some cases even months before residents were able to return to their properties.
Still, a further problem soon arose. When many owners returned, they were contacted by their insurance agencies only to learn that they no longer met specific "criteria" that had been required for flood protection. Many residents claimed that their providers failed to clarify this statement any further, but only said that their policies could no longer be renewed. Other providers were said to have increased their rates of coverage dramatically.
This resulted in numerous individuals lacking flood insurance in an area that was known to be prone to flooding. Although some chose to seek out different providers, nearly all of the victims soon discovered that even if a policy was to be found, the premiums were exceedingly high. This even caused some owners to consider selling their property, for they were well aware that the possibility of future flooding was extremely high. Others chose to remain and live in homes that did not possess adequate flood insurance.
It became obvious that flood insurance for homes and businesses that were considered to be located within "high risk" regions was a critical issue. This was taken quite seriously, for flooding is the most common natural disaster to be encountered within the United Kingdom.
Still, many homeowners were forced to pay for all costs out-of-pocket, for there was no consensus reached as to which locations were "high risk" and which were not. This was seen to be a problem well into the future, for many experts cited climate change as having a potential impact on millions of properties in areas that were already prone to catastrophic flooding.
Thus, a careful balance still needs to be struck between high-risk locations and affordable insurance policies. Some are debating as to whether this should occur at the governmental level, or individual companies should instead increase the levels of flood protection that they currently provide. Regardless of the eventual decision, the flooding that occurred in Northern Wales in November of 2012 proved to be quite costly for countless homeowners. In the meanwhile there are still specialist insurers who may be able to help in many cases.