EA data not detailed enough to assess risk, industry says

Insurers are calling for an independent body or quango to pull together vital information to deal with flood risks.

Speaking after the Sixth National Seminar on Flood Risk and Insurance, MMA, Royal and SunAlliance (R&SA), Groupama and AXA said they wanted research pooled to improve efficiency.

The insurers said they would welcome an independent body because, the flood information supplied by the Environment Agency (EA) was not detailed enough.

At the seminar, Renaissance Re of Europe managing director Ian Branagan warned insurers not to rely on current data to produce accurate risk assessment or flood maps.

MMA household account manager Jane Coppard said: "The Renaissance speech had very valid points. He [Branagan] said we should not rely on one piece of flood data, which leaves insurers concerned about where to go next. Insurers need to pull together. An independent body is a very good idea."

AXA assistant property manager Nick Hanklin said: "It's a great idea in principle, but the stakeholders have to come from a cross-section of companies with an interest in floods. We need to look at the issues long-term."

Aon director of research analysis Matthew Eagle added: "The problem is insurers are not going to share too much information and there is too much business interest but more standardisation of data is needed."

An EA spokesman said: "We collate flood information to help us do our job which is to alert flood warnings and flood defences, but commercial sector has different needs which we try to meet.

"However, as a public body we have to meet our responsibilities, so an independent body would be welcome."