Flooding is the biggest ‘act of nature’ risk to the UK, says research

Flooding is the biggest ‘act of nature’ risk to the UK insurance industry, according to EMB.

Increased rainfall and poor drainage means flooding is affecting policy prices for consumers in the UK insurance market. It now tops the list ahead of problems caused by heat and wind, according to research carried out by EMB across the UK’s leading insurance companies.

Before 2007 UK insurers were meeting a large number of claims caused by heat, as subsidence caused damage to properties across the country. Heat is now relegated to third place in the ‘acts of nature insurance league table’ as the wet weather of 2007 has driven flood claims and eased the risk of subsidence.

“The issue of flooding used to be a problem restricted to people living close to rivers and coasts,” said Karl Murphy, partner at EMB. “Most insurance companies had previously based their calculations on river flood models. However 2007’s floods hit people previously unaffected by such conditions and companies are now having to modify their pricing strategies.”

The floods of 2007 cost the insurance industry around £2.5bn and revealed how business could be better prepared for future risks.

“Companies should not be resting on their laurels when calculating their pricing. By looking to implement the latest modelling techniques, businesses can incorporate third party data of flash flood risk assessment data by postcode to develop profitable pricing strategies for non-life risks,” added Murphy. “Applications can be used to vary the factors used in modelling risk to gain a higher degree of granularity and allow insurance companies to adapt along with the forces of nature.”

“Insurance companies need to factor in issues surrounding climate change and must look to incorporate long-term weather trends into their pricing.”

The trends differ across Europe and the US. In Germany wind tops the list, while in France winter storms are the biggest problem. Meanwhile in the US hurricanes are the number one force of nature that is driving insurance claims.

Acts of nature insurers league table

This sets out the acts of nature that have had the greatest effect on claims and hence policy pricing in the respective years

1. Heat
2. Wind
3. Rain

1. Rain
2. Wind
3. Heat

Source: Based on EMB customer research