Independent review of flood insurance published

An independent review into flood insurance has been published, which recommends ways to improve awareness of insurance options in high-risk areas, as well as ensure tenants, landlords and property owners have better access to flood insurance.

The review, led by former chair of the Association of British Insurers, Amanda Blanc, was commissioned by the government following flooding in South Yorkshire last November. 

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The review set out to examine the level of insurance held by those affected and the barriers they faced in obtaining cover.

The report found that 97% of owner-occupiers had at least one of buildings or contents insurance, with 95% having both, against the 94% for households at risk of flooding in Defra’s 2018 report. However, around 6%, or 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.

The review has also urged the government to explore “how it could use its existing powers to compel both private and social housing landlords to comply with this requirement, including through legislation”.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “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.”

Blanc said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

The government will now consider all the recommendations in the review and respond in due course.

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