The government should extend housing benefit to cover flood risk, a leading industry expert has warned.

Professor David Crichton, visiting professor at Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, said that flood risk posed the greatest threat to low income households, and urged the insurance industry to put pres-sure on the government to act.

"Three million households in the UK are currently uninsured for contents," he said.

"Extending housing benefit to cover contents insurance premium [in flood risk areas] would be an ideal solution for people who cannot afford it. 

"The government will say they cannot use taxpayers' money to do this, but it could be funded from insurance premium tax," he added.

But despite recent calls for the government to play a role in underwriting flood risk, insurers expressed scepticism about the proposal.

But Alan Gairns, property development manager for Royal & SunAlliance, said: "Why single out one peril? This group is more at risk from fire than from flooding."