Insurers demand flooding reviewIndustry expecting £3 billion bill

20 August 2007

 

A flooded street with houses

Houses damaged by flooding

British insurers have demanded more action over flooding amid fears that even 'normal' rainfall could lead to further deluges.

In a letter to Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said inadequate drain and watercourse maintenance was partly to blame for the recent floods which paralysed part of the country.

It welcomed a government pledge to spend more on defences but added that, on its own, the cash was not enough and called for an urgent review.

The letter highlighted the cost to insurers of the torrential rain that hit the UK in June.

Torrential rain

In it, Stephen Hadrill, director-general of the ABI, said: 'The scale and impact of the floods has been massive. The cost to the industry of over 60,000 claims is approaching £3billion and more claims continue to come in.

'It is worth noting that in other countries this cost would have fallen on the state, as the UK is almost unique in covering flood risk through insurance.

'The government's contribution would have been far in excess of the £15 million so far committed.'

At present, British insurers give flood cover to houses, even those at risk, as long as the government commits to investing sufficient sums on a sustained basis to provide flood defences in at-risk areas.

'Urgent review'

Last month, Mr Benn announced that spending on flood risk management and defences would rise from £600 million to £800 million in 2010-11.

But the ABI said there was a need for an additional £150 million for maintenance.

'Some defences will have been put under great pressure in recent events and will need to be checked and possibly strengthened.'

The letter noted that in some places watercourses and drains were blocked due to inadequate maintenance, leading to some flooding taking place in areas not identified as being at risk.

Mr Haddrill added: 'We believe that an urgent review is needed of how best to maintain urban and rural drainage, including whether expenditure is adequate, and how to co-ordinate better modelling of flood risk and planning of alleviation measures.'

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