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517,000 homes at risk of being flooded warns ABI

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by Kay Mitchell

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is warning that the Government must take action against floods as its members will stop insuring people in high risk areas.

According to the ABI, there are 517,000 homes at significant risk of being flooded. The floods last summer cost the ABI’s members £3 billion in claims.

Furthermore, nearly 5,000 homeowners are still living in temporary accommodation following last year‘s floods, according to the Government.

Of these people, it is estimated that at least one in eight households do not have insurance.

Nearly 50,000 properties were affected by the floods last June and July, with Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and South Wales worst hit.

Speaking at a One Year On conference today, Nick Starling, ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said the Government must take steps to identify and better manage the threat of flooding if cover is to remain widely available.

Flood cover has been standard for household insurance for almost 50 years and is provided on the belief that floods will not occur more than once in every 75 years, or that adequate defences are planned within the next 5 years if the flood risk is higher.

However, last summer’s floods, which were the worst ever recorded, produced 4 years’ worth of claims in only 2 months.

Mr Starling added that a sense of urgency in dealing with flooding is required.

Research by the ABI has revealed that 75% of Britons believe that not enough action is being taken to prevent similar catastrophes while 98% believe drainage should be at the top of the list in order to reduce the flood risk.

Half of last year’s flood-related insurance claims were made because of damage caused by water coming up through drains. The floods last year revealed that many drainage systems are inadequate to deal with prolonged rain.

In response to the ABI’s findings, Phil Woolas, Environment Minister, said it was unfair to suggest that nothing had changed as since last year’s floods,

The Environment Agency and local authorities have undertaken a lot of work to put in place flood defence programmes, explained Mr Woolas.

Both the agency and councils are using their powers to restrict building on flood plains, concluded Mr Woolas.

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Story link: 517,000 homes at risk of being flooded warns ABI

News posted: June 18, 2008

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