Locations most at risk of climate-related home damage
2022 has seen an increasing number of global extreme weather events. In the UK alone, we’ve experienced a record high temperature of 40.3°C and more than a 200% increase in the number of wildfires since last year. Meanwhile, the whole of Europe has been hit by the worst drought in 500 years as well as dangerous flash flooding.
These events can wreak havoc on our homes. In light of this, we’ve created an index revealing which locations across England and Europe are most at risk of climate-related home damage, highlighting the importance of insuring your home’s building and contents to protect against potential harm.
The European countries most susceptible to climate-related home damage
We considered a range of factors to uncover the European countries most at risk of climate-related home damage, including changes in average temperature, climate score, number of floods caused by heavy rain, acres of land burned by wildfires and air quality and pollution levels.
With a vast 4,185 acres of land burned by forest wildfires per year and an air quality and pollution level of 47 (which is bordering on moderate), Spain topped the list as the European country most at risk of home damage caused by climate-related issues.
It’s followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, which sees less damage by wildfires (1,995 acres burned per year) but more floods caused by heavy rain (1 per year). The UK, which came third, experiences far fewer wildfires than either Spain or Bosnia and Herzegovina (381 acres burned per year) but has a much worse air quality and pollution level (60).
Top ten European countries most at risk of climate-related home damage
|Rank||Country||Change of avg. temp per decade (°C)||Climate score||Avg. number of floods caused by heavy rain per year||Avg. acres of land burned by forest/wildfires per year||Air quality & pollution levels||Overall climate damage score|
|2||Bosnia and Herzegovina||/**||80||1.0||1,995||42||5.93|
**No data was available
Serbia is most at risk of flooding and Portugal is most vulnerable to wildfires
Serbia ranks as the European country most at risk of floods caused by heavy rain with an average of 1.4 floods caused by downpours per year, making it the number one country for flood-related home damage. This was followed by Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria which all experience an average of 1.2 floods per year.
Meanwhile, Portugal is revealed as the most at-risk country when it comes to forest wildfires, with an average of 6,039 acres of land burned by wildfires per year (but only 0.2 floods per year). This is followed by Spain (4,185 acres burned by wildfires per year), Italy (3,373) and Greece (2,790). All these countries have generally warmer climates, which contributes to the greater risk of wildfires.
The UK has the highest air pollution levels in Europe
As well as ranking third for overall risk of climate home damage, the UK was also found to be the most at-risk country in Europe for damaging air quality and pollution levels. The UK’s air quality and pollution level of 60 is considered a health concern for people who are sensitive to air pollution, and high levels of air pollution can also cause damage to buildings.
The UK is followed by Greece which has the second highest air quality and pollution level (59), North Macedonia (52) and Spain (47).
The English cities most susceptible to climate-related home damage
Which cities across England are particularly vulnerable to climate-related home damage? To answer this question, we ranked English cities based on a variety of factors including climate score, number of people in flood-risk areas, average rainfall per year, average temperature, average wind speed and air quality and pollution levels.
Our research reveals Kingston upon Hull as the English city most at risk of climate-related home damage, with 311,346 residents overall threatened by flooding and an air quality and pollution level of 48 –the third highest in the country). Leeds was the second most at-risk city, experiencing some of the highest levels of rainfall per year (88mm), followed by Plymouth and Manchester.
Top ten English cities most at risk of climate-related home damage
|Rank||City||Climate score||People at risk of river and sea flooding||People at risk of surface water flooding||Avg. rainfall per year (mm)||Avg. lowest temperature (ºC)||Avg. highest temperature (ºC)||Avg. monthly mean wind speed at 10m (knots)||Air quality & pollution levels||Overall climate damage score|
|1||Kingston upon Hull||88||281,885||29,461||58||7||14||9||48||6.52|
**No data was available
Which English cities are most threatened by flooding?
Kingston upon Hull’s risk of flooding from rivers and the sea was significantly higher than other cities around the country, with 90% of the city’s population threatened by this. London follows, as 12% of the population is vulnerable to this type of flooding, along with Nottingham (8%) and Derby (7%).
As for flooding from surface water, we found that Southend-on-Sea is most vulnerable, with 30% of the city’s population at risk. London was again the second most at-risk city (16%), followed by Leeds (14%), then Derby and Leicester (both 11%).
Which English city is at most at risk from strong winds?
Wind speed is highest in Liverpool with an average monthly wind speed of 12 knots over 10 metres in the city. This makes Liverpool the English city most at risk of home damage caused by wind. It’s followed by Plymouth, with an average wind speed of 10 knots, Preston (9 knots) and Southend-on-Sea (9 knots). Each of these cities is near the coast, where wind speed is generally higher than in cities further inland. Despite not being located near the coast, Kingston-upon-Hull and Sunderland also have an average wind speed of 9 knots.
Plymouth is also revealed to have the worst air quality and pollution levels in the country at 52, followed by Manchester (50), Kingston upon Hull (48) and Bristol (46).
How to protect your home from climate-related damage
Considering the rising number of climate-related catastrophes, it’s sensible to protect your home from any damage that extreme weather can cause. This is especially important if you live in a high-risk area.
Here are some steps you can take to keep your home safe from climate-related damage:
- Install shutters or reflective blinds to block out heat from the sun in high temperatures. This will reduce the risk of sun damage and fires.
- If you’re in a flood-prone area, replace any wooden floors, doors or window frames with more flood-resistant alternatives, such as ceramic tiles for the floor.
- Reposition all electrical sockets and appliances to be further away from the ground in case of flooding.
- Check that all fences, doors, posts etc. are secure and sturdy in case of strong winds.
- Make sure you have the right buildings and contents cover included in your home insurance policy. If you live in a high flood-risk area, for example, you’ll need to make sure your home insurance covers flood damage to both the building and its contents, as this level of cover varies between providers.
To check if you have the right cover, visit our home insurance page.
To calculate the cities most at risk of climate-related damage in Europe, we looked at the following metrics:
- Average temperature rise data - https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2019/04/climate-change-europe#map-climate-change
- Climate score per country - https://www.numbeo.com/climate/
- Number of floods caused by heavy rain - https://global-flood-database.cloudtostreet.ai/#interactive-map
- Number of acres affected by forest- and wildlife fires - https://www.statista.com/statistics/1260777/area-burned-by-wildfire-in-european-countries/
- Air quality and pollution level data - https://waqi.info
Within the UK, we calculated the English cities most at risk of climate-related home damage by looking at the following metrics:
- Climate score per city - https://www.numbeo.com/climate/country_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom
- Air quality and pollution levels - https://waqi.info/
- Average monthly rainfall - https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-climate-averages/
- Number of people living in an area at risk of floods - https://environment.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=4d066e4a4373486e96dff8d3a86207ae (for river - and seawater) and https://environment.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=bfe44552ba1849d594de7b40fdcfa685 (for surface water)
- Lowest and highest temperature, average wind - https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-climate-averages/ (Where city data was unavailable for wind, district data was used for these locations: Kingston upon Hull, Preston, Birmingham, London, Southampton and Sunderland).