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Zurich warns of ‘double disaster’ for 3.5m households

The insurer is now calling on the government to reform the £5,000 flood resilience grant scheme to help homeowners make ‘proactive improvements’ to their properties.

Zurich has called for “urgent action”, warning 3.5 million households are at risk of being hit by extreme wet weather as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of risks of flooding, the insurer is now calling on the government to reform the £5,000 flood resilience grant scheme to help homeowners make “proactive improvements” to their properties to withstand future flooding and “drive the green economic recovery”.

In addition, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report, published in partnership with Zurich, has warned that extreme weather is considered a top global risk by likelihood over the next ten years.

Its warning comes as the Environment Agency has predicted that more than 3.5 million properties in England and Wales are at risk from some form of flooding. Of these, around one in 12 are at high risk, which equates to 290,000 homes.

The UK has been struck by multiple summer floods in recent years, with the July 2007 floods costing an estimated £3.2bn. February storms this year also caused £360m in damages.

It is also calling on the government to review and reform building regulations to create a set of “resilience standards” that the construction industry must meet when flooded properties are reinstated.

Laura McAlpine, Zurich’s head of public affairs, said: “Hundreds of thousands of households have been left more vulnerable as a result of the worst public health crisis in a generation.

“Even relatively minor flooding would place disproportionate strain on people’s jobs, finances and mental health. If towns are hit by flooding in the coming months, the impact would be magnified, with particularly severe consequences for the most vulnerable in society.”

She added: “The scheme is ineffective as property owners can only access the grants after a flood, when the damage has already been done. Households also face a “postcode lottery”, as the funding only applies in areas designated by the government after a flood event.

“The grants should be made available all year round to help people in high flood risk areas protect their homes before flooding strikes. This is a ‘shovel-ready’ project that would support the government’s green economic recovery and provide a vital boost for local construction jobs.”

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