Insurers To Claw Back Cost Of UK Floods

The clean-up from the 2012 floods is expected to cost insurers over £1bn and push premiums up for a fourth consecutive year.

Eight thousand properties were flooded last year, according to the Environment Agency , as flooding remains Britain’s greatest risk.

Residents and business owners in the town of Braunton in Devon experienced flash floods in the days before Christmas.

Pub landlord Mark Ridge, from the London Inn, is expecting to claim in excess of £160,000.

He had initially thought the damage could be repaired in a fortnight but has now been told he will have to close until Easter.

“It soon became apparent that it was a rip-out job, strip the whole pub, and get the insurances involved,” said Mr Ridge.

“That’s everything from the buildings, to contents, stock, loss of earnings, staff wages have to be claimed for as well. All of which we have to pay for first and then claim back – so it’s not an easy task.”

Four of the top five wettest years on record have been since the year 2,000 which is putting pressure on the Government and insurers to renew their 10-year deal to provide universal cover for all homes, including those in flood prone areas.

Mohammad Khan, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said: “The weather events of 2012 have dented insurers’ profits and will probably lead to renewal premiums rising by up to 5% for those unaffected by the floods and by up to 50% for those flooded.

“The UK floods therefore, have also brought into sharp focus the current standoff between the insurance industry and the Government on the renewal of the Flood Principles – agreement needs to be reached in 2013.”

The negotiations over continued cover from insurers, in return from assurances from the Government including the managing of flood risks and robust planning controls, will continue until June.

Matt Cullen, from the Association of British Insurers , warned: “We’ve calculated following some extensive research that if we don’t reach agreement with the Government over what replaces the Statement of Principles then around 200,000 homes in flood-proned areas could struggle to access cover.”

But the Government has played down the likelihood of such a situation.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We want to find a lasting solution that secures the affordability and availability of flood insurance for the first time, without placing unsustainable costs on wider policyholders or taxpayers.

“Our primary role is to prevent flooding in the first place. We are on course to spend £2.3bn on preventing flooding and coastal erosion over this four-year period.”

PwC said it estimates the cost of the floods to the insurance industry in 2012 to now add up to around £1bn.