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Independent review of flood insurance

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A flood warning sign, on a closed country road next to water logged fields in the Avon Valley, Hampshire, England. Flooded after an extreme amount of rainfall at the start of 2014

This morning there is coverage on the front page of the Yorkshire Post and BBC News of our announcement of the recommendations of an independent review of flood insurance, commissioned by the government following flooding in South Yorkshire last winter.

The review, led by Amanda Blanc, former chair of the Association of British Insurers, found whilst 97% of owner-occupiers had at least one of buildings or contents insurance, with 95% having both. Around 6% (25 homes) did not have flood cover included in their policy.

The review recommends that insurers and intermediaries do more to help people get the right insurance, and that landlords in high flood risk areas provide renters with details of the building’s insurance cover at the start of their tenancy, including the support that would be provided by the insurer to the tenant in the event of a flood.

The review has also recommended that the government explores how existing powers could be used to compel both private and social housing landlords to comply with this requirement. Combined with better guidance to tenants from local authorities, this would help people to make fully informed decisions when purchasing contents insurance.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

I’m grateful to Amanda Blanc and her team for the time spent listening to affected communities in and around Doncaster to try and better understand the problems they faced as a result of last year’s terrible flooding.

The government will now review these recommendations while working with stakeholders to address the challenges exposed by events in South Yorkshire last year. In the meantime, we are continuing to support the recovery of communities hit by last year’s floods, recently extending the £5,000 grant scheme available to homes and businesses in affected areas. The Environment Agency is also completing a programme of repairs to ensure our defences are ready for the coming winter.

Chair of the independent review, Amanda Blanc, said:

I would like to pay tribute to the people and businesses of Doncaster for their resilience and collective endeavour, in particular the many community groups, church groups, local agencies and representatives who have worked tirelessly to support their communities since last November’s devastating flooding.

I was concerned to discover that although the majority of Doncaster residents had sensibly protected themselves with insurance, some of these policyholders had been sold cover which specifically excluded flood risk.  In an area of such high flood concern like Doncaster, it was disappointing to find this essential insurance peril had been omitted for some  - particularly as Flood Re was developed and exists to address this.

In addition, too many tenants found themselves with no insurance to help them recover from a catastrophic situation.  This was particularly prevalent in places like Bentley where there is a large proportion of younger people on lower incomes living in rented accommodation.

The impact of flooding for people already living in less fortunate situations can be even more profound.  With the risk of flooding in the UK  increasing, it is vital that we do all we can to help those most at risk to get the support they need.

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