The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published guidance for developers to help ensure new homes are as flood-proof as possible.
The ABI said the guidance will help its members continue to offer insurance cover against flooding on new developments, as well as helping consumers who are interested in buying a new-build property.
Under the guidance, insurers expect builders to ensure they have approval for all new developments from the Environment Agency in England and Wales, or the equivalent bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Where buildings are located in flood-risk areas, specific measures should be taken to cut the risk of flooding, such as having raised floors and using flood resilient building materials.
Homeowners should also be given details of these measures so that they can present them to insurers to show that, even though a property may be on a flood plain, steps have been taken to limit the impact of a flood.
Stephen Haddrill, director general of the ABI, said: ‘Climate change means buildings are increasingly vulnerable to damage caused by severe weather, such as flooding.
‘We all want new sustainable communities and a thriving housing market, but this can only happen if we design, build and locate new properties to withstand changing climate.
‘These guidelines will help developers and planners to build properties to withstand the impacts of climate change.’
The ABI is also encouraging the building industry to develop a kite-mark scheme so that buyers and insurers can tell if a property has been designed to be climate-resilient.
It’s concerned that once the housing market picks up again and developers move towards the Government’s target of having three million new homes built by 2020, increasing numbers of homes will be built in areas at risk from flooding.
Insurers have agreed to continue offering cover to properties that are at risk from flooding at a price that reflects the risk until 2013.
But this statement of principles does not apply to new homes built after January 1 2009.
Insurers will offer cover for these homes, but they are under no obligation to renew the policies when they run out.
Mr Haddrill said: ‘Avoiding high flood-risk areas, and building better protected buildings will enable flood insurance to remain widely available and competitively priced.’
The Environment Agency predicts as a result of climate change the number of people at high risk from flooding could rise from 1.5 million to 3.5 million by 2080, and the annual cost of damage from flooding could rise from the present level of £1 billion to £25 billion.
© Press Association 2009
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