Insurers need to understand numbers of properties affected by flooding

The ABI is holding a flood seminar on 15 May to eliminate confusion over flood risk data supplied by the Environment Agency (EA).

The institute wants the EA to provide more data, so that all properties in high-risk areas are not automatically blighted.

At present, the data dubbed by the ABI as the "most accurate information available", has left insurers confused. They say they cannot use it to properly assess risk.

Leading insurers said the data, complete with digital mapping, detailed the percentage of properties on a flood plain, but did not give high or low risks.

This had left them with major uncertainties and undermined the ABI's statement of principles.

The statement of principles encourages insurers to continue providing cover for homes in high flood risk areas as long as the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) implements flood defences by 2007.

ABI manager of property and household Jane Milne said: "We need to fully understand the risk of flooding and insurers need to interpret the data by the number of properties that will be affected by floods.

"This means that if 90% of properties are in a high risk area, the 10% in a low risk area will not be treated in the same way."

The data was released to the ABI on 29 January and the association has been evaluating it before issuing it to members.

An EA spokesman said: "We have been in discussion with ABI on the best way forward but it is vital insurers know where we are coming from and how much we can do with taxpayers money."