One in six homes at risk of flooding: check before you buy

Flood sign

Fewer than one in three people in England and Wales bother checking out a property’s flood risk before buying their home. 

The research, commissioned for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), comes six months after the insurance industry set up Flood Re, a not-for-profit fund that enables flood insurance to be affordable for those households at highest risk of flooding.

It found that 33% of buyers were interested in how easy it was to park in the neighbourhood, but just 28% would check whether their house could be at risk of flooding.

The ABI estimates that one in six homes in England and Wales is at risk of flooding from either rivers and sea or surface water.


To promote consumer awareness, it has produced a traffic-light style mark (see the image below), which it wants to see estate agents and property portals use to provide buyers with information about a property’s flood risk. The red, amber, and green symbols would be calculated using flood risk data broken down by postcode, which are available on online maps produced by the Environment Agency and Natural Resource Wales.

If a property has an amber or red symbol, a buyer could pay for a full flood risk report and research whether there are any flood defences in place or planned, and whether the property has been prepared for potential flooding. 

At present, buyers may only find out that a property is a high flood risk during property searches during the house-buying process. This information can come once someone has already paid for surveys and legal fees.

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, says: “Flooding is a growing threat that as a nation we have to adapt to living with. As the floods of last winter reminded us, being flooded is horribly traumatic and can leave people out of their home or business for months. Anyone whose property is at flood risk needs to be aware of that so they can take steps to protect themselves.”


He adds: “Property advertisements carry a wealth of information on everything from local schools to a property’s energy efficiency rating. Easily available information about the flood risk of the area is a glaring omission which needs to be put right."