Floods lead to greater insurance demand


Applications for home insurance have increased by 300 per cent in some areas since flooding first hit the UK last month.

New figures from moneysupermarket show that the greatest increased demand for buildings and contents insurance has come from those areas hit by flooding, namely Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, the West Midlands and parts of Scotland.

Richard Mason, director of insurance at moneysupermarket, said: "The increase in the number of people applying from areas affected by heavy rain is no surprise.

"Clearly, homeowners who narrowly escaped the floods this time have realised that without any insurance cover they could be left footing bills for tens of thousands of pounds in the future. Annual home and contents insurance on typical homes in areas such as Doncaster, Sheffield, and Edgbaston can be as little as £101 to £117."

He went on to explain that despite fears that insurance companies may not wish to offer cover to some areas, due to an agreement with the government insurers will continue to provide protection.

Mr Mason said: "Insurers say they will still abide by the terms of a deal they reached with the government in 2002. This states that insurers will continue to offer cover for those already insured and take on new business where defences are in place or planned."

The research also shows that premiums have not yet risen, and it is claimed that in order to maintain market share, insurers may absorb much of the claim costs from reserves.

"However, if the government ever reneges on its part of the deal to build more flood defences, then cover may either be withdrawn or premiums spiral to as much as ten times current costs," Mr Mason warned.

Meanwhile the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has confirmed that its members have now dealt with 50,000 claims following the floods, including 12,000 claims for flood damage and 3,500 claims from businesses this July.

The ABI now put the combined cost of this summer's flooding at £2.5 billion.

Nick Starling, the ABI director of general insurance and health, said: "The priority for insurers is to help their customers pick up the pieces from these devastating floods. More vulnerable customers, and the hardest hit, are placed at the top of the list.

"Our members are working flat out, but dealing with two massive events in a short space of time inevitably means that things may take a little longer. Where areas are under water we must wait for the water to recede before we can do anything to assess the damage."

He added: "We must reduce the chances of this happening again. The government must invest more in flood defences, and new homes must not be built in areas at high risk of flooding."