Clock is ticking for a flood insurance deal, MP warns

THE nightmare goes on for Morpeth flood victims as the clock is ticking for a deal on insurance, MP Ian Lavery has warned.

The Wansbeck Member spoke of the misery faced by residents across the town in a debate on flood insurance in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

A Statement of Principles, which aims to ensure cover is available for flooded properties, will expire in June, and the Government and insurance industry are yet to agree a new scheme for affordable policies.

If no deal is struck, people in flood risk areas could be hit with huge increases in charges, or struggle to find any cover at all.

Mr Lavery said: “Insurance for properties in high risk flood areas is a pressing issue and that pressure has intensified as the expiry date of the Statement of Principles approaches. Urgent action is needed now to assist those people whose properties are at risk because for them the nightmare will be perpetuated until a new scheme is in place.

“I have been horrified at some of the quotes constituents have received from potential insurers — quotes that have been horrendously high in respect of both premiums and excess charges.”

A Morpeth Flood Insurance Working Group, led by Morpeth Town Council, the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) and the Chamber of Trade, had proposed a new insurance scheme that would spread the risk, with all policyholders contributing to a community flood levy.

The industry has put forward a similar proposal that would see a not-for-profit fund run by insurers, with a temporary overdraft facility from the Government.

However, no agreement has been reached.

Mr Lavery said: “I am sure Ministers from Defra and the Treasury will have had considerable dialogue with the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, but it is vitally important that any new scheme reduces the possibility of property blights and the consequential community blight.

“Flood insurance has to be affordable to individual households and businesses and I would urge the House to remember that the most important people in this debate are those who have suffered the most — the residents and businesses that have experienced the full horror of flooding.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that flood insurance is available and affordable to all.”

The MP praised Northumberland County Council and the Environment Agency for progressing the town’s flood alleviation scheme, as well as MFAG for its lobbying work and the emergency services that responded to flooding.