Flash Floods Cause Heavy Damage in U.K.’s North Yorkshire Region

Flash floods that hit the North Yorkshire region of Britain on Sunday night have left a heavy toll in their wake. While no loss of life has been reported, many houses have been destroyed, a number of roads and bridges were heavily damaged and power cuts hit some 38,000 homes in the North Eastern U.K.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an advisory bulletin. People hit by the recent flooding were told to “contact their household insurer as soon as possible. Many offer 24-hour emergency helplines, to arrange for repairs to be carried out as quickly as possible.”

The ABI also advised that “most household policies will cover the cost of alternative accommodation (up to a specified limit), if the property is uninhabitable; fully comprehensive motor policies will cover flood damage, and in addition to being covered for flood damage, many businesses may have business interruption cover, which will pay the cost of alternative accommodation while the business premises are uninhabitable.”

The BBC reported that “among the worst-affected places in North Yorkshire were the market town of Helmsley and nearby Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe on the edge of the North York Moors. A major clean-up operation is continuing in Helmsley, about 20 miles north of York, where floodwaters coursed through the town, cutting it off and closing the A170 and the B1257. Engineers have been assessing damage to bridges in the area and the nearby tiny community of Hawnby, in which all three access bridges were extensively damaged.”

The ABI noted that this was a localized event and noted that insurers had been able “to make contact with affected policyholders to get claims moving as quickly as possible. In many areas, loss adjusters have been able to get to the affected properties to begin the cleaning up process, and, where needed, arrange for alternative accommodation.”

No firm estimates have yet been made on the extent of the losses, but the ABI indicated that “insured damage will run into millions of pounds.” It also noted that this is “exactly the type of unforeseen (a month’s rainfall – 70mm [4.5 inches] – fell on the top of the nearby North York Moors in under three hours) event insurance is designed to protect against financially.”

While flash floods of this type are common in other parts of the world – notably the Western U.S. – they are rare in rainy Britain. However a report from the BBC indicates that according to the U.K.’s Environment Agency they are “likely to occur more frequently as climate change tightens its grip.” An agency spokesman stated: “More of these sorts of things are going to happen in the future. We will see more extreme weather events. Over the past few years there has been a lot of intense rainfall and localised flooding similar to this linked to climate change.”

The ABI said: “With extreme weather incidents predicted to increase, the ABI will shortly (29 June) be publishing research findings assessing the financial impact of climate change.”