Insurers will be able to access secret security information to help assess disaster risks

A new national security strategy, introduced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week, could provide insurers with useful data on natural disasters.

In a statement to parliament Brown announced a more coordinated response to national security. His proposals include a national risk register to make previously withheld information on threats available to the public, and a civil protection network that has been likened to a neighbourhood watch.

Julian Barker, terrorism and political risk underwriter for ascot Underwriting, said it was unclear at this stage how much relevant data would be released by the government.

He said: “We may regard certain properties as being more at risk than others. So if the government identifies specific locations and whether they would be political targets, we would be able to compare our views.”

Alan Gairns, technical manager for RSA, believes a civil protection network could help reduce losses by having civilians become eyes on the ground.

“If a river is in danger of overflowing then they could give warning, which gives people some time to get what items they can from the ground floor and upstairs,” he said.

“You’re not going to see a huge reduction in claims costs but there could be lower claims costs for some individuals.”

But he warned the new strategy should not detract from the need for government to provide adequate funding for flood protection programmes.

“This might be something used as an alternative to adequate funding for flood protection. It’s probably something that would be worth reinforcing from an insurance perspective, but we don’t want the government to take its eye off the ball.”

A spokesman from the ABI said: “Anything that protects the country against natural and man-made catastrophes is sensible.”