The industry should contribute to flood defence spending, in collaboration with government, a group of MPs including former environment minister Michael Meacher has said.
Meacher, who is backing a motion put down by Colin Challen MP, with the support of 22 other MPs, said: "Government should take the lead on this and protect the population and infrastructure of the land, but insurers have a big part to play."
"The industry should gradually build up a fund through a levy to deal with emergencies. Pay-out costs for flooding could destroy particular insurance companies in some areas."
Meacher, who was once touted as a potential challenger to Gordon Brown, also wants the government's commitment to flood defence spending to be outlined in July's announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will set out predicted public spending until 2011.
But insurers, while welcoming the state's increased role in flood risk management, have expressed reluctance about a fund for flood defence.
A spokesman for the ABI said: "We are already in a partnership with the government. We provide cover for flood risk, and the government manages that risk."
“Government should take the lead on this and protect the population and infrastructure of the land, but insurers have a big part to play
Michael Meacher, MP, former environment minister
He added: "We accept that the government has limitations on funding, but it is not for us to pay for flood defences any more than we should pay for fire engines."
Insurers already pay a levy into an industry-wide fund that is used to help cover flood claims.
The MPs' call came as Defra unveiled a £500,000 funding package to help make vulnerable homes more resilient to the threat of flooding.
A spokesman for Norwich Union described the new government measure as a "drop in the ocean".
Jane Milne, the ABI's head of pro-perty insurance, said: "Important as flood resilience measures are, over the long term we need a sustained investment programme in flood defences. Flood defence spending needs to rise to £750m a year by 2011.
"This greater investment will enable flood insurance to remain widely available."