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Insurers face £2.5bn flood repair bill

Clean-up operation gets under way

A flooded street with houses

Houses damaged by flooding

Insurers are expected to have to pay out up to £2.5 billion to cover the huge cost of the floods that have devastated parts of Britain.

As they continue one of the biggest clean-up operations Britain has seen, the evaluation of the damage it has caused is starting in earnest, with a much-needed break in the poor weather expected this week.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: ‘This is a very expensive year, for sure.

‘There have been other years, like in 1990 when there were bad storms and flooding which cost in excess of £1bn, but this is the most expensive year in some time.’

Expensive year

It is not only insurers who will have to dig deep. The government, Environment Agency (EA) and water companies now need to consider what work has to be done to improve flood defences for the future.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has declared that he is ‘determined’ lessons will be learnt and outlined various grants and funding that will be made available to those affected.

But it has already been said that the extra £200 million to increase flood protection measures announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown will not be sufficient for the task at hand.

And the EA said that the floods were more than a wake-up call and the race was now on to address the problems thrown up by this year’s extremely wet summer.

Lessons learned

Head of flood risk policy, Phil Rothwell, said: ‘We are already actively involved in looking at where we go next. This is a starting gun, we have to go now. The race has started to sort this out.’

Thames Water said the EA was responsible for improving flood defences, but that it would also be assessing its response to the crisis and seeing what could be learned.

A spokeswoman said: ‘Obviously, once the emergency is finished we will be looking at the exercise to see what lessons can be learned because some of our facilities were flooded.

‘We will be doing a full evaluation about how the business responded.’

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