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New flood deal to be struck with insurers

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: March 06, 2012

Richard Benyon

Richard Benyon

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ENVIRONMENT Minister Richard Benyon is 'confident' of reaching a deal with insurers to ensure future cover for homes at risk of flooding in Devon.

Securing an agreement with the industry this spring would allow a 12-month run-in period before the existing safety net for vulnerable households expires next year, he told MPs at Westminster.

It comes amid concerns homes at risk of flooding could struggle to get insurance in future unless a solution is reached.

This has been a particular source of concern of Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, accompanied by warnings funding changes threaten vital upgrades to the city's flood defences, putting 3,000 homes and more than 1,000 businesses at risk.

The Association of British Insurers, which represents the industry, has previously vented its frustration at the Government, arguing the existing agreement to offer flood cover was a 'sticking plaster' measure and would not be renewed in 2013.

It said the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) "seems to be listening less and less".

The criticism came after Mr Benyon ruled out providing funding to subsidise insurance premiums, saying the priority would be investment in reducing the risk of flooding.

The current Statement of Principles on the Provision of Flood Insurance runs out next year.

Agreed by the Association of British Insurers and the previous government, the industry committed to continue offering flood cover to existing customers, providing the flood risk is being adequately managed.

But there have been continuing concerns over spiralling premiums and massive excess payments which has effectively left residents unable to afford cover.

Cash for flood defences has also been cut.

The urgency of the situation was raised with the Minister at Westminster by Labour MP Jessica Morden, who said the problem would "kick in" before 2013.

She said: "Household flood insurance policies form next year are being written this year."

Responding, he said plans would be put forward by the spring.

"I am confident that it will be a solution that works," he said.

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