Insurers assured of greater accuracy in revised database

The Environment Agency (EA) has said it can provide accurate flood risk data in a month.

The move, announced at an ABI/EA seminar, follows months of frustration over the EA's flood risk database released in January, which did not meet insurers' criteria for risk assessment.

And insurers told last week's seminar that they could not rely on the flood data to set pricing or underwrite individual risks.

The industry body is calling for insurers to talk to their policyholders to make accurate flood risk assessments of homes.

The Risk Assessment for Strategy Planning (RASP) database currently details the first half of postcodes, for example Gerrard's Cross is SL9, broken down into one square kilometre.

It does not provide detailed information on individual postcodes.

The revised version is said to include current and planned flood defences and full postcodes for high-risk areas.

ABI manager of property and household Jane Milne said: "It's a step forward, but more needs to be done. Insurers should communicate with policyholders until the flood information is revised and improved."

An EA spokesman added: "RASP was intended to give us access to a full flood picture not to underwrite risk.

"Before it can be released we need to deal with a licensing issue, which means insurers may have to wait until the end of the month for the information."

Allianz Cornhill head of household Steven Ward said: "There are a fair number of flaws in the data which makes underwriting for individual risk inaccurate, but they are working on improving the database and it should be with us by the end of the month."

Zurich Retail head of household Simon Cross said: "The information was never intended for insurers to set pricing or underwrite risks.

"The EA database is the most accurate with individual local knowledge, but at Zurich we are going to make sure additional information comes from our policyholders before we make a decision."