Insurers should improve their dialogue with the government and building planners over the safety of new developments.

Professor David Crichton of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre called for an increase in communication at the flooding seminar.

Crichton suggested that an increase in funding was not the only answer.

"It no good asking the government for more money," he said.

"Insurers should instead have a dialogue with planners and have meetings on a regular basis."

Crichton said the government also needed to communicate with the public.

"People are buying property not knowing that it is in the floodplain when the Environmental Agency accepted the development in the first place," he said.

Smith Stuart Reynolds senior manager Ivan Moss said that the simple solution would be to stop building on floodplains.

But he said a debate raged around building on land with a previous use or brownfield or natural greenfield sites.

"There is enough land for 920,000 houses to be built on brownfield land, but how many would then be on a floodplain?" he said.

"No one is asking the question."