Flood risk homes can still be insured

Homeowners living in areas at risk of flooding will continue to be able to buy home insurance following Government assurances this week that planning officials will be required to take greater account of environmental issues.

Homeowners living in areas at risk of flooding will continue to be able to buy home insurance following Government assurances this week that planning officials will be required to take greater account of environmental issues.

Planning minister Keith Hill said housing developments in areas where the Environment Agency has advised against building because of flood risks will now have to be referred to the Deputy Prime Minister's office before winning approval.

The announcement follows warnings from insurance companies over the rising bill for claims relating to floods. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) last year agreed to extend a deal with the Government that members would continue offering cover to households at risk of flooding if they already held policies. But it warned that buyers of new properties might not be able to get insurance. The deal on existing properties also depends on continued funding for flood defences.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance, said: "The Government's ambitious plans for new housing depend on managing the flood risk, and the continued availability of property insurance. Insurers want to continue to provide flood insurance to as many of the UK's two million flood-vulnerable property owners as possible."

Individual insurers welcomed the announcement, but warned more work was needed to protect policyholders.

Two companies, More Than and Norwich Union, have developed new technology to provide more accurate maps of the areas most at risk of flooding. Other insurers offer cover on the basis of a property's postcode, even though several houses in the same code may have different risk profiles. The Environment Agency's flooding map also has gaps in its coverage.

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