Insurers in crunch talks with government over flood risk management

The ABI has kicked off a series of crunch talks with the government over flooding with demands for ministerial action over flood defences in return for continued cover in high risk zones.

Tuesday night’s meeting was attended by members of the government, including Environment Minister Phil Woolas, the ABI’s executive team and representatives from Norwich Union and Royal & SunAlliance.

The review process is expected to conclude in the spring with a decision by insurers on whether they will continue to follow the gentleman’s agreement that binds them to offer cover in flood prone areas – known as the Statement of Principles.

The current agreement expires in the autumn.

An ABI spokesman said: “At the end of this process we want the statements to continue because the government made changes in the key areas we’ve outlined. This isn’t a rubber stamping exercise. We are going to play hard ball on this.”

The ABI wants the government to acknowledge the need for change in key areas including; better coordination and the development of a central body to management the flood risk; more robust assessments of flood risks, particularly when it comes to drains; and a commitment by government to not build new developments on flood plains.

The ABI has set up working parties to meet with the government to discuss the various concerns. Defra declined to comment.