Insurers are putting emergency plans in place to deal with the threat of floods across the UK this winter.

The environment agency has placed flood alerts on several of the UK's rivers, as water levels reached unusually high levels for the time of year.

At present, there are seven flood warnings in place, three in Wales on the river Wye, two in the Midlands on the rivers Severn and Vyrnwy and two in the North-East on the river Ouse.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "Last year was the wettest year ever recorded.

"Hopefully that was a one-off, but we do have high river levels for the time of year, and if we do get substantial rain there could be problems."

Insurers and loss adjusters are ensuring they have extra staff in place to deal with a flood emergency.

Loss adjuster Crawford's managing director Jonathan Clark said: "We have a surge plan to help cater for the uplift in business."

Claims adviser for Royal & SunAlliance Richard Moxon said: "The emergency reponse team is on standby at the moment, but not on full alert."

After last October's floods, insurers were forced to raise property and household insurance premiums after losses of £760m. Insurers and the Association of British Insurers' (ABI) agreed to continue to provide cover for those affected for two years, while the government implemented flood defence measures.

But insurer Norwich Union has voiced concern over the government's lack of progress and is calling for more investment to make sure the defences are in place by the time the agreement expires next year.