The trade association says there needs to be better collaboration with software houses as well as a ‘build back better’ mentality

Trade association Biba said “we need to tweak Flood Re” at its next quinquennial review in order to accommodate contents insurance, link better with broker software houses and to recognise when flood resilience is built into properties.

Graeme Trudgill, executive director at Biba, said the trade body has “had some constructive discussions” so far on possible amendments, which will be put to members in due course.

He told Insurance Times: “Our view is that where you have contents insurance requirements for people living in a large residential building, we need to tweak Flood Re so that they can insure their contents. We’ve had some constructive discussions there.”

Trudgill added that Flood Re access on broker software houses is not yet fully comprehensive, and that insurers need to plug into these systems so that Flood Re products can be offered – he added that software houses are ready for this change and want to do more in this area.

Flood Re should also accommodate properties that are rebuilt to be flood resilient – Trudgill called this “build back better”. This could include, for example, flood-damaged properties being repaired using hard flooring or water-resistant shelving so that if flooding did occur at the property again, it would be easier to recover from because the damage wouldn’t be as severe as after previous flooding incidents.

Trudgill believes this mentality should be built into Flood Re because it saves insurers money, means policyholders do not have to remove to alternative accommodation and they can continue to trade if they are a business. Plus, repair costs are generally lower too.

Code of practice

For Trudgill, the cross-industry Code of Practice for flood resilience, which launched in February at the House of Commons, is “something good” that arose prior to the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The first stage of that, which has been launched, is giving consumers and businesses guidance on what materials are necessary to build physical resilience into their property. So, is it door shields, is it flood walls, is it different floorings?

”It’s about making sure that any investments that clients can put into their properties are actually recognised and they get more attractive terms from the insurance market,” he explained.

“The next stage of this Code of Practice is to accredit suppliers who install all this material to prevent the flood – you know you are going to someone you can trust and then the insurance industry can give a discount or better terms to someone there. We’re particularly keen that the insurers recognise this.”

Independent review

Representatives at Biba have also met with industry veteran Amanda Blanc to discuss the independent government review of flood insurance that she is spearheading – the initial consultation for this is due to close this week, according to Trudgill.

The review, which will consider both domestic and business insurance provisions, aims to explore why individuals did not have sufficient insurance coverage, or any insurance at all during the November 2019 flooding in Doncaster. It will seek to understand the barriers preventing households and businesses purchasing this type of insurance and what the scale of this problem could likely be.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, this independent review was the biggest ticket item on Biba’s agenda, said Trudgill, alongside discussions around the hard market.

Although the review focuses on flooding in Doncaster last year, Trudgill added that there could be scope to discuss the flood damage that occurred earlier this year as a result of Storms Ciara and Dennis.

He said: “The actual review itself is about the Doncaster floods at the end of last year. The review doesn’t specifically mention the flood claims from this year, although I think there is probably room to talk about lessons there because [it has] the same issues that I think really matter.”