Environment Minister Richard Benyon met with insurers to discuss how best to ensure that insurance is widely available for homes at risk of flooding at a flood summit.
The summit brought together key representatives from the insurance industry, the National Flood Forum, the Environment Agency and local government to discuss the challenges in managing future flood risk.
Participants discussed innovative ways of reducing flood risk, the availability and transparency of flood risk data and the current availability and affordability of flood insurance. They agreed on a roadmap towards 2013 when the current agreement between Government and insurers on flood risk management expires. All parties also recognised that insurance policies should reflect flood risk, including resilience and other efforts by individuals to limit their own damage.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:
“I am delighted with the progress that we have made. Floods are devastating to anyone who suffers them. People can lose their homes, treasured possessions and businesses. In the worst case lives may be lost. Government has a role to play in managing the overall risk to the nation, but we all, as individuals need to take greater responsibility for understanding our own flood risk and minimising it where we can. Insurers continue to have an important role in helping us to recover when the next floods hit.
“The summit has been an opportunity to sit down and listen to different perspectives and experiences. The progress made will help those at risk of flooding.”
Maggie Craig, Acting Director-General of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said:
“Insurers are determined that flood cover continues to be as widely available as possible. Insurance plays a crucial role in helping homeowners and businesses recover from the distress and expense of being flooded. Millions of people rely on the financial protection insurance provides.
“With the flood risk set to worsen for many, all stakeholders must work to find a solution to help the growing number of people at risk. We must ensure that investment in our flood defences keeps pace with the flood threat. Insurers are committed to working in partnership with their customers, Government, and other stakeholders to ensure that communities at risk of flooding get the protection they need and deserve.”
Mary Dhonau, Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum (NFF) said:
“Those at risk of being flooded live in fear of insurance blight. We at the NFF believe flood insurance should be available and affordable for everybody not just the few. Managing flood risk should be a partnership between, the insurance industry, government and the homeowner. Making your home more resilient to flooding, where possible, can be of great benefit and we would encourage sharing of good practice.”
The summit concluded with all attendees agreeing to continue the partnership between government, insurers, communities and individuals, which is so important to the success of future flood risk management in the face of challenges from climate change.
Flood insurance is currently widely available and included within standard building and contents insurance, a situation virtually unique to the UK.
The impacts of climate change are set to increase the likelihood of flood events such as those experienced in the summer of 2007.
To continue the progress which has been achieved at today’s summit, three working groups are to be established which will further discuss and investigate risk sharing models, data transparency and facilitating information sharing between individuals and insurers. Future flood summits will also be held to enable key stakeholders to continue to share experiences and findings and to work together to successfully manage the challenges that future flood risk presents.