Norwich Union underwriting director John Seaton slammed the government's "unacceptable" failure to increase flood defence spending to its maximum until 2011, accusing it of doing too little too late. Action needed to be taken now, not three or four years down the line, he said.

Climate change minister Phil Woolas said: "We are determined as a government that people should be able to get insurance against flooding. That means that the insurance industry has to be satisfied that the government is doing enough to help and we have to be satisfied that they are doing enough to provide insurance to people to protect their homes.

ABI director general Stephen Haddrill said there must be a stronger commitment from government to plough more cash into tackling fraud.