Below are some of the steps that you can take if you are experiencing problems with your Insurer. The National Flood Forum is working hard to keep a dialogue going with the insurance industry and we will continue to do so. Many of the problems we have heard of have been resolved by the policyholder challenging the insurance company. If you are experiencing problems, please let us know by letter, e-mail or leaving the information on the insurance problem section on our website.
We are not in a position to act as an intermediary in individual insurance matters, but all the information we can collect will help us to put a strong case to the insurance industry as a whole.
The Association of British Insurers has agreed to investigate reports of difficulties in obtaining insurance from their membership, which covers the majority of insurance companies. They recommend the following action if you are experiencing problems getting insurance. · First, discuss the matter with your insurer. Ensure that you speak to a senior member of the underwriting team. The first 'screen' for applications/renewals is likely to be handled in a standard fashion, with no assessment of individual circumstances. Consequently not all the pertinent facts may have been accounted for in the initial response. Taking the issue higher creates the opportunity for dialogue and a level of decision-making on an individual basis. If there have been previous claims, the insurer will want to know it any action has been taken locally e.g. new/improved flood defences, other local works and/or any modifications or additions to your property to improve flood resistance, which will include fitting flood-resistant flooring, moving electrical points, or installing simple flood barriers.
If you continue to have problems following the above step, you can write to the Association of British Insurers with details of you insurance company, the policy number and an account of the discussions with the company, including any relevant facts as featured above: The Association of British Insurers, 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ. The ABI will take up issues concerning refusal of insurance. They will not however intervene on premium rates and other policy conditions such as policy excesses. They do recommend that people shop around to get a competitive quote. · In addition, if you are experiencing difficulties with insurance cover, you need to inform your mortgage holder. They not only need to know; they may also be able to help you. If you find that the excess on your policy is so high that you will not be to afford a claim should flooding recur, your mortgage lender may be able to find you a policy with a higher premium but a minimal excess, so that in the event of flood damage you will be able to use the policy and make a claim. It is not in your mortgage lender's interest for you to be in a situation where flood damage will not be repaired. · You can also write to The Financial Ombudsman, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR.
ABI Statement - 26/09/02....
ABI STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES ON THE PROVISION OF FLOODING INSURANCE General policy It is the intention of ABI members that flood insurance for domestic properties and small businesses should continue to be available for as many customers as possible. The premiums charged and other terms - such as excesses - will reflect the risk of flooding but will be offered in a competitive market. This statement of principles will apply from 1 January 2003 but is subject to review in the event of significant external shocks such as withdrawal of flood reinsurance. Successful operation of the principles is dependent on planned information on risk levels and investment being available from the relevant flood defence authorities. Areas currently defended to DEFRA standards The majority of properties in flood risk areas are already protected to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' indicative minimum standard of 1 in 75 years for urban areas, or better. The level to which properties are defended above this will vary considerably and premiums will reflect different degrees of risk; but flood cover will be available as a standard feature of household and small business policies. High risk areas where improved defences are planned by 2007 In a number of locations the risk of flooding is unacceptably high. Existing flood defences provide less protection than the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' indicative minimum standard of 1 in 75 years for urban areas. Where improvements in flood defences sufficient to meet these standards are scheduled for completion within the next 5 years, insurers will maintain flood cover for domestic properties and small businesses which they already insure. The premiums charged and other policy terms - such as excesses - will reflect the risk. If a domestic property in this category is sold the current insurer will continue to provide cover, subject to satisfactory information about the new owners of the property, especially their previous claims record. Where a small business is sold the current insurer will consider whether to continue to provide cover; this will depend heavily on the proposed new use of the premises and the previous claims record of the new owner. High risk areas where no improvements in defences are planned There are other locations where the risk of flooding is unacceptably high - and in some cases they have been shown to flood frequently - and no improvements in flood defences are planned. Here insurers cannot guarantee to maintain cover, but will examine the risks on a case by case basis, use their best efforts to continue to provide cover and will work with the owners of domestic properties and small businesses which they currently insure to see what action could be taken by the property owner, the Environment Agency and the local authority, which might make the property insurable in some form. This action might include the use of accredited products, flood resilient materials and temporary defences to defend the property. Action from Government The implementation of these principles will depend on action from Government as detailed below with an annual review of progress: · actual expenditure on flood defences to meet or exceed that set out in the 2002 Spending Review; · implementation of the improvements in the system of flood defence planning set out in DEFRA's consultation "Flood and coastal defence funding review"; · full implementation of PPG25 (Planning Policy Guidance on Development Planning and Flood Risk), with full reporting of the level of compliance by local authorities and consideration of administrative processes in the planned review of PPG25 in 2004; · the Environment Agency's flood asset database to be available to insurers by the beginning of 2003, and publicly available as soon as possible; · early improvements in the flood warning system, and implementation of the Cabinet Office's recent emergency planning review; · full and detailed consideration, including a benefit/cost analysis, to be given to integrated drainage management for England and Wales, similar to that in operation in Scotland; · implementation of realistic solutions to sewer flooding including increased investment in improvement programmes and adoption of water companies and sewerage undertakers as statutory consultees in the development planning process.