Insurance wait goes on

MORPETH was represented at the UK’s first conference dedicated to flooding insurance.

The event, which took place in York last Friday, featured representatives from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), National Flood Forum and the Federation of Small Businesses as well as MPs.

Also present were Alan Bell and Trevor Walmsley, Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) Chairman and Secretary respectively. They asked a few questions and the group was mentioned by four of the speakers.

Concerns have been raised about insurance cover over the coming months because the Statement of Principles between the insurance industry and the Government, which ensures residents in flood-risk areas can continue to get cover, is due to end on June 30.

Both sides believe a better system should be in place, but nothing has been agreed and talks are on-going to try and find a solution that will make cover more affordable without being unfair on taxpayers.

A Morpeth Flood Insurance Working Group, including MFAG, the town council and the Chamber of Trade, drew up a proposal for a scheme to spread the risk of flooding across all policyholders, with a community flood levy.

Some of its ideas were included in the ABI’s submission, which would see a not-for-profit fund run by insurers with a temporary overdraft facility from the Government.

Mr Bell said: “The conference was very interesting and we gained some insight into how things are progressing.

“The insurance industry is looking into the finer details of potential solutions, but it is waiting for the Government to announce the amount it will spend on flood defence works in its latest Spending Review on June 26.

“It is also looking for the Government to agree to provide a loan that would be backed by a levy system if there are a high number of flooding events over the next few years, but it appears that the Government doesn’t want to do this.

“The Statement of Principles has been extended by a month and it may be extended a few more times to cover the transition period, but a decision on this issue needs to be made soon or there won’t even be a transition period.”

On Monday, Defra parliamentary under secretary of state Richard Benyon told Parliament that “constructive discussions continue between Government and the ABI and others about the future of flood insurance,” but he did not go into more detail.

He added: “We need a solution that ensures the availability and affordability of flood insurance for those at flood risk, but does not place unsustainable costs on wider policyholders and the taxpayer.”