Homes at Risk of Flooding Could Be Banned by Insurers

Homes at Risk of Flooding Could Be Banned by Insurers – According to the head of Britain’s Environment Agency, if homes built on flood plains against official advice, they should be refused insurance. This would then stamp out the threat of millions more flats and houses being erected in high-risk areas.
Last year the rising risk of flooding to businesses and homes was dramatically highlighted when torrential rain caused 15 deaths and 3 billion pounds of damage. Following that disaster, an investigation by the Environment Agency had found that 5,000 locations of ‘critical infrastructure’ were at severe risk of flooding.
In a separate report from the same Agency, officials warn that ‘at the moment we are unable to provide meaningful warnings for imminent sewerage or surface water flooding’ – and that was the problem which caused most of last years chaos.
As weather forecasters predict an increase in flooding as a result of climate change, the Environment Agency’s chief executive has called on insurers to refuse to insure new properties where the local authority has given the go-ahead to build against the Agency’s advice.
Last year in such circumstances, 13 large developments, including housing estates and a holiday park, were awarded planning permission. The Agency’s proposals would also affect the Government plans for 3 million new homes. Experts predict that up to one third of these could be built on flood plains.
Many of the homes flooded last year were built on flood plains between 1960 and 1980. ‘We would like the insurers to be tougher and simply refuse to insure properties built on the flood plain against our advice’, said the Agency’s spokesperson.
In June 2006 officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs admitted that flood defences were ‘severely rationed’ and good schemes were being routinely turned down. Since 2004 there have also been 6 other major safety scares at dams, before the emergency at Ulley dam in Yorkshire last year when cracks appeared when the floods were at their height. During the same period, owners of 40 additional dams have been threatened with legal action over safety issues.
After the floods, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said annual flood defence funding would rise from £600m to £800m, but not until 2010-11. Now that the economic recession has really bitten, we can expect significant delays in that expenditure.
The Association of British Insurers said : ‘When dealing with huge number of claims some problems may arise. Insurers try to resolve these as quickly as possible. The industry has pledged to continue to offer flood insurance to all existing customers, providing there are adequate flood defences in place. For new customers individual insurers will decide if they are able to offer flood cover.’
The following numbers show 6 worst areas and the numbers in each location of properties at ‘significant risk’ – a once in 100 years (or 1 per cent in any given year) chance of flooding:
8,106 Runnymede, Surrey
8,131 Spelthorne, Surrey
8,387 King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
9,656 London Borough of Enfield
11,673 Windsor and Maidenhead
15,906 Boston, Lincolnshire