Perry Says… Britain has experienced the most extreme start-of-summer downpour it ever has in over a century. Heavy rains have led to widespread flooding in several areas, which has thus caused extensive damage to property.
Record-breaking torrents drenched England and Wales in June of this year in an occurrence which has not been experienced in the country since 1860. In a region where the average rainfall is 2.5 inches, certain places have been affected by as much as seventeen inches of rainfall. As thunderstorms and relentless rain showers came over the south coast of England, the Environment Agency has declared particular areas in imminent danger, including the counties of Dorset and Kent. As much as 23 flood alerts have been issued across the country, with five warnings in the South West and the Midlands. Weather forecasts point to evidence that the stormy conditions are likely to carry on for a few more weeks.
With the numerous flood warnings that have been declared, the Environment Agency has also advised home-owners to be vigilant in protecting their property. The flooding due to the unpleasant weather has caused massive property damage, with an estimated cost of repairs amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds.
The Labour government previously had an arrangement with the house insurance industry, after widespread flooding in the year 2000 caused an estimated one billion pounds worth of damage. With the condition that the local government fulfils their promise to reinforce measures against flooding, insurance companies have resolved to continue covering most of their clients residing in flood-prone areas. This agreement however, is nearing its expiration, and no new plans have been proposed to take its place.
According to the Council of Mortgage, there is no guarantee that insurance companies will continue to have the means to support their clients who have property in those areas susceptible to flooding. This situation will then tend to cause an increase in premiums; financial experts have indeed advised the affected property owners to prepare for higher premiums when the time comes to renew their home insurance plans. A number of flood victims have received an increase of up to five times in premiums, while some have been required to pay the initial £5,000 of all coming claims.
In the aftermath of the June flooding, Caroline Spelman – Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – has informed the public that she has had discussions with the insurance industry regarding plans that could increase an average household’s expenses by approximately 10 per cent. She recommends an additional fee concerning all home insurance policies, intended to raise funds for repairing damage caused by flooding. It’s quite possible that this procedure would be imposed within the next few months.
Many have criticized Spelman’s proposition, saying that this appears to be a form of stealth tax. It would also pose an issue of being unfair to citizens who have chosen not to reside in flood-prone zones, as they too will also be obligated to pay the fees and in effect fund repairs for other people’s homes.