NU extends cover to 90% of previously declined properties

Norwich Union has extended flood cover to up to 600,000 properties with the launch of its state-of-the-art flood map.

Using technology that is up to 20 times more accurate than previous maps the insurer claims it will be able to insure up to 90% of properties previously declined because of the risk of river flood.

Norwich Union head of underwriting Laurence Loughnane said: "Because of the level of detail provided by the map, people who previously thought their property was uninsurable could now obtain cover. The new information will help to convey to customers just how severe the flooding risk to their property will be and how often a flood can be expected."

The map will allow flood risk to be split up into seven categories, from one in ten year to one in 1,000 years.

The system went live on the internet and phone channels this week, brokers should be able to use it by next month.

Loughnane said: "Although insurance companies can't stop properties being flooded, we believe we have a responsibility to ensure flood risk is calculated as accurately as possible."

Policyholders whose premiums decrease as a result of the new map will see the saving on their first renewal. Customers whose premiums rise - estimated to be limited to a few hundred - will have the increase phased in over time.

The success of the map will rely on the incorporation of up-to-date information from the Environment Agency about flood defences, something that has not always been easy in the past.

Loughnane said: "We are reliant entirely on the Environment Agency for information on flood defences. We are expecting better information from it."

Looking forward, Loughnane confirmed Norwich Union was looking at a number of initiatives such as high excesses, shared responsibility and flood exclusion policies to help people who cannot get insurance because of flood risk.

The insurer is also hoping to roll out a coastal flood map next year.