The floods in the North of England, Scotland, North Wales and Northern Ireland, pose a number of questions about flood risk management and insurance that we will be investigating. One issue is effective flood defences. Those at Carlisle and Keswick in England, were put in place following the 2009 floods. In both places, the water levels overtopped the defences. For the maps we provide insurers, we need to assess whether these floods were truly exceptional events or whether they are likely to be more common as a result of climate change or other reasons.
Climate change is linked to stormier and more extreme weather. The problem for insurers, who write annual contracts, is in being able to know whether extreme flood events such as we have been experiencing in the UK are going to make a significant difference to the risks they are underwriting. If climate change is to blame, when did it start? It could have begun some years ago. Equally, we could still have very settled years without meaning that the underlying process of change has ceased. These are issues which require management at many levels from international organisations to local authorities to which the insurance industry and experts such as JBA Risk Management will contribute.