WELSH businesses could be hit worse by flooding - after a prediction of more floods in Wales over the next few decades.

New research from Heriot-Watt University found that Wales could see flood events increase by a quarter by 2080. Welsh businesses were hit in February 2020 by Storm Dennis and also just before last Christmas, with heavy rain causing flooding in areas.

Dr Annie Visser-Quinn, a data scientist at Heriot-Watt, said: “We used multiple datasets and methods and compared the results, using the most up-to-date data available.

“The estimates paint a concerning picture for the future UK flood landscape, especially when combined with increasing urbanisation."

Dr Visser-Quinn and her colleagues looked at one in two-year and one in 30-year events - the type of flooding that happens every two years, and the less common one-in-30 years extreme event.

“Across the UK, we found that the magnitude of the one in two-year event could increase by 15-35 per cent," she said.

“The north and east of Scotland is facing a 34 per cent increase in the magnitude of flood events, which is significant.

“The north of England and Wales are similarly high at 25-28 per cent.

“London and the Midlands have the lowest percentage increase. The magnitude of their one in two-year events will increase by 18 per cent. Even a small increase can have a profound impact on urban areas.”

The data could not predict whether there would be an increase in the one in 30-year events.

Insurance expert Neil McGuire, of insurance broker Lycetts, has also warned that businesses need to take flood risks more seriously and that many business owners could be left to foot the bill for the damage if their insurance policies are not right.

Mr McGuire said: “Flood risks are increasing, due largely to the effects of climate change and an increasing population - and this is only going to get worse and affect more and more businesses.

“What many business owners do not realise is that although some protection can be provided for homeowners as part of the government’s Flood RE initiative, this does not apply to commercial businesses.

“Many businesses are at risk of being left ‘high and dry’ and losing everything if they haven’t arranged the right protection - and this problem is set to become more prevalent as flooding becomes more common and widespread.”


He explained about the covers and what usually happens in flood-affected areas: “What you tend to find in flood-affected areas, after the first flood, insurers will raise the premium for flood cover, increase the flood excess or exclude flood risk altogether.

“These businesses are left with few options - pay higher premiums, accept a significant excess or have no cover at all - in which case a contingency plan using vital funds is needed.”

He also warned about businesses not near waterways or having not been flooded before should not be complacent as they could still be at risk of flooding.

“Towns are expanding, and new developments are cropping up, which leads to a loss of grass to absorb rainwater and an additional strain being put on the drainage system. Add climate change into the mix, and the heavy deluge of rainwater that comes with it, and you have a precarious situation” he said.

“We are finding areas that have never flooded before are now at risk. We need to ‘shift gears, to ensure we adapt and become more resilient’.”

Insurance payouts for recovering from Storm Ciara and Dennis last year came to £214m according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) with £85m going to commercial property claims.

What can businesses do?

Mr McGuire said: “There are a number of ways that businesses can help reduce their premiums – firstly by making their property more flood resistant and resilient and secondly, by going down a less traditional insurance route.”

Ways to help make a property more flood resistant:

• Flood boards

• Flood proof doors or barriers

• Sandbags

• Air brick covers

He said to look for kite-marked products which are usually favourite by insurers.

For the inside of the property:

• Sump pump systems

• Water compatible walls and floors

• Raised electrics

• Plinths for electrical goods

• Flood alarm systems

• Careful storage of valuables.

Mr McGuire said: “A flood risk mitigation survey is also useful, as it can help businesses to determine what can be done to reduce exposure to flood damage, confirm that any existing flood measures have been fitted correctly by the installer, and, in turn, help reduce premiums.

“There are also non-traditional insurance products coming to market, which can be a lifeline for businesses struggling to obtain insurance, for example, businesses who occupy or let out properties that lie on the floodplain.

“Parametric insurance is a non-traditional insurance product that offers pre-specified payouts based upon a trigger event. Payouts are set and based on flood water level, rather than damage, which can be extremely variable and unpredictable.

“Once flood water reaches a certain depth, there is an automatic pay-out, and as the insurance payout is pre-agreed by policy holder and insurer, costs are kept at a minimum. This cost saving is passed on to the business through lower premiums, there is no protracted legal wrangling or wait time for pay-outs, and businesses who could not afford or were refused cover due to repeat floods finally have a safety net and a sense of security.

“I would urge everyone to check their postcode on the government’s long-term flood risk service and sign up for free flood alerts. If you are in an area that is flood exposed, you should think about putting a flood strategy in place and creating a flood resilience plan - and if in doubt about what you are covered for, seek specialist help.”