Time for the Ark?.. Well nearly!

Financial Services Team Blog

Lynn Tweedale

“Ban the hosepipes because it’ll be an Indian summer” the weathermen promised us, and promptly I, like most Brits, brushed off the BBQ and ironed my summer dresses in preparation for the summer we’ve all been longing for. For a long time Pimms o’clock never came, and the rain just kept falling…!

My tomato plants got waterlogged, my lawn is (still) over-grown despite the little dry spell to get the mower out to tackle it, but throughout this time at least my home stayed warm and dry.  Which is more than quite a few people can say. More than 3,000 homes have been affected by the flooding since May according to the Daily Mail, and 18,000 have been affected by flood alerts.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates that the cost is likely to top the £3 billion in claims seen with the 2007 flash floods.  But at what expense is this to Joe Public when we’ve all dried out?  In the news recently, we see the agreement insurers have with the government to offer ‘affordable’ cover to high-risk homes is being discussed in parliament.

Following an estimated £1 billion damage to homes in the floods of 2000, Labour struck a deal with insurers to ensure they would cover people in flood-risk areas. In return, the government promised to improve flood defences. That agreement expires next year, and the Environment Secretary is currently in talks with insurers about ways to cope with costs of severe flooding. But with the coalition allegedly cutting their flood budget by £400million, the government are arguably not keeping to their end of the bargain.

The current state of play is being dubbed a ‘Stealth Tax’, with the latest proposal being a levy applied to all home insurance policies to raise enough money to cover damage from severe flooding. To be able to offer cover to high-risk homes, it is being quoted that every home’s premium is set to increase by 10%.

This has sparked some controversy in the blogs and newsboards this week, with people clearly upset that they’ll be funding someone that chose to ignore the flood risks when buying their riverside cottage with beautiful views…most of the time when the cars aren’t floating past… Indeed, one comment likens this “everybody pays” scheme to asking non-car owners to contribute towards their car insurance.

Of course there are those who, due to freak situations, DO suffer, and quite rightly, they should be insurable – but shouldn’t the cause be being tackled by the country as a whole – aka, our representatives in power? And, not as is currently being debated, by bumping up premiums of those who did check their flood reports before moving in?

Still – at least for now, my fish are safely swimming in their tank rather than round the lounge floor, and I can use my hosepipe again…just in case something out there is dry.