Insurers have welcomed the Environment Agency's (EA) new flood warning campaign, but say the government can still do more for flood defences.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said its recent delegation to Defra, which included three chief executives from major insurers, had been "extremely helpful" and offered a "platform for further dialogue".

However, ABI spokesman Alan Leaman said the industry wanted "to provide comprehensive cover to all policyholders", but this was dependent on the government "offering affordable and practical flood defences to attack climatic change".

The EA report, published this week, offers advice on flood defences to homeowners, but the research suggested nearly half of the people living in flood zones were not aware of the risk. If sea levels rise this year, more than five million people in England and Wales could be affected.

"What needs to be looked at in depth is the way local authorities work," said Leaman. "Many have laws dating back 500 years. A streamlining of organisations is needed for the process to become more efficient."

ABI director general Mary Francis said in a statement: "For the immediate future, insurers have promised to continue providing homeowners and small businesses with flood cover, wherever possible. But over the longer term, the affordability and availability of insurance will depend on action being taken now by the government and other public bodies to reduce the risks."