The ABI has contacted parliamentary candidates and local newspapers within 100 flood risk constituencies in an attempt to push flooding up the election campaign agenda.

It aims to encourage Britain's five million voters in flood-vulnerable areas to put pressure on the major political parties, committing them to invest in flood management.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance, said: "We want voters to make it an issue and are urging candidates to make a commitment to flood defences. Some of the flood risk constituencies are marginal seats so this could become an election-winning issue."

' The government could remove coastal and river defences from downstream floodplains in an effort to relieve flood pressure on more highly populated areas upstream.

Under the new policy land will be opened up around towns such as Carlisle and Lewes, which have been subject to serious flooding, as soak-aways for flood water.

The flood risk management strategy was outlined in Making Space for Water, published for Defra.