Review was carried out by Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc on behalf of the government

”Tens of thousands” of vulnerable homeowners may be “unnecessarily” missing out on protection through the Flood Re scheme, according to a heavyweight review carried out for the government by Amanda Blanc.

The Aviva chief executive’s independent review of flood insurance in Doncaster, which was commissioned by ministers following the floods that hit the south Yorkshire town last winter, was published on Thursday.

A survey of owner occupier households in Doncaster, carried out for the review, found that 97% of owner occupiers had either buildings or contents insurance, with 95% possessing both.

However it also found that 6% of buildings and 6.5% of contents policies had flood exclusions applied to their insurance.

The report found “no evidence” that any of the excluded properties were ineligible for Flood Re, the government-backed scheme set up in 2016 to make it easier for insurers to offer households cover in flood-prone areas.

Amanda Blanc

The review was led by Aviva chief exec Amanda Blanc

It said: ”Flood Re supported cover was either not being consistently offered to, or not being taken up by, households who would benefit.”

In her foreword to the report, Blanc wrote: “This suggests some people are missing out on the subsidised insurance made available through Flood Re.

”If replicated, this could add up to tens of thousands of households across the country going without flood protection unnecessarily.”

The report said it is possible that some residents, most likely those on low incomes or who are not fully aware of the level of risk they face, chose not to buy flood cover on cost grounds, even though it is subsidised by the scheme.

But the report said the ”most plausible explanation” for the ”surprising” lack of flood cover is barriers in the distribution chain.

These include half of insurance brokers reporting that they have “difficulty” accessing Flood Re backed policies and many households renewing policies they have had for years without being made aware that supported cover is now available.

Only 36% of tenants confirmed that buildings insurance was in place and 45% said they did not have contents cover.

The report sets out a series of recommendations to remedy the potential shortfalls in flood cover that it identified.

These include that insurers should not offer, or renew, Flood Re eligible customers’ buildings or contents insurance with a flood exclusion unless the customer has specifically requested it and understands they will not be insured in the event they are inundated.

If an insurer does not want to accept a high flood risk, they should either cede the policy to Flood Re or signpost the customer to alternative cover.

To remedy the ”relatively low” insurance in the rented sector, the report recommends that the government should consider legislation to require landlords to have buildings cover that protects tenants in the event that the property is uninhabitable for an extended period.

It also recommends reviewing the impact of the contents-only Flood Re premium on pushing up the cost of insurance for low income households.

It said that even the lowest Flood Re contents premiums, which work out at £52 for council tax band A and B properties, are a ”cost barrier” for low income households.

In its response to the report, Biba said that it supported the recommendations for insurance brokers to have more ready access to Flood Re.

A spokesperson said: “We agree with the point made that government should consider more direct ways to increase the take-up of contents cover for tenants in high flood risk areas.

”The suggestion of guidance on flood risk and the means of mitigating its effects through insurance is welcome and will help improve uptake.”

James Dalton, the ABI’s director of general insurance policy, added: “Amanda Blanc has undertaken a detailed analysis of the availability and affordability of insurance following the devasting flooding that hit Yorkshire in late 2019.

”The insurance industry welcomes the recommendations in her report on what more can be done to ensure our flood risk communities have the flood insurance protection that they need. We are committed to working together with the community, government, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association and Flood Re to implement these recommendations in full.”

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