Flood insurance deal struck at last

A DEAL for affordable flood insurance has finally been struck — and Morpeth has played a major part.

The Government announced last week that it has now reached an understanding with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) about providing affordable flood cover in the future.

The new agreement will cap premiums and link them to council-tax bands, while an industry-backed levy, which will include a pool from all policyholders, will cover those most at risk.

The Flood Re deal will be sealed in the Water Bill, and the current Statement of Principles agreement will be extended until the new arrangements come into force.

Much of the new deal echoes proposals put forward by the Morpeth Flood Insurance Working Group, which was set up by Morpeth Town Council in 2010 to address the issue of soaring insurance costs in high-risk areas in partnership with the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) and Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade.

Chairman David Parker said: “What is significant is that something is going to happen and this is along the lines of what the Morpeth group suggested.

“Conversations have been going on between the Flood Action Group and ABI and the result of that was that ABI came up with Flood Re, which is not that different from our idea. There have been discussions with the Government for the last 12 months using that as a way forward.

“The Morpeth initiative has certainly played quite a significant role in finding an answer to the insurance problem. We obviously can’t claim credit for the whole thing, but we can say that we made a significant contribution to it.”

Coun Parker said the town council welcomes the deal.

“We are really pleased about this because it is going to be of tremendous benefit to thousands of people across the country and quite a few in Morpeth,” he said.

He also praised MFAG for its dogged work on the issue.

MFAG Chairman Alan Bell, who has been in Westminster this week to discuss various proposals, welcomed the progress, but said there are still concerns to address.

He said: “It is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of detail to be sorted out and we do have concerns about various aspects.”

Mr Bell said they include plans by the industry to put higher risk properties into a separate pool, which could make cover less affordable, and that the agreement is likely to last just 20 to 25 years.

“Come the end of that time there could be risk-related premiums right across the board,” he said.

“For this to work there would have to be considerable input from the Government on flood defences and addressing surface water problems, otherwise you are just kicking the problem further down the road. These things need to be addressed.”

MFAG will raise the concerns at a consultation event later this month.