42,000 Welsh homes face flood cover risk - Association of British Insurers

Flooding on road in Pembrokeshire The ABI has mapped areas at most risk of flooding in England and Wales

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About 42,000 homes in Wales face insurance problems when a UK government agreement ends next year, claims the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

It has mapped out flood-prone areas, and the Vale of Clwyd tops the list in Wales, with more than 7,300.

The ABI warns a pact ensuring cover for high-risk homes ends in June 2013.

The Welsh government said it was spending £100m on flood and coastal defences. It said it was working to ensure the insurance continued.

The ABI said the pact obliged insurers to provide cover for high-risk properties while the UK government - the Welsh government in Wales - continues to improve flood defences.

It wants the government to share the risk for the most vulnerable properties, claiming that the current deal distorts the market.

The ABI says it has analysed official data to highlight the areas with the most homes at significant flood risk, which are defined as a greater than one in 75 chance of flood in any given year.

HOMES IN SIGNIFICANT FLOOD-RISK AREAS

North Wales - 27,050

  • Vale of Clwyd, 7,339
  • Clwyd West, 6,160
  • Aberconwy, 5,500
  • Dwyfor Meirionnydd, 3,251
  • Delyn, 1,533
  • Montgomeryshire, 1,499
  • Arfon, 726
  • Ynys Mon, 562
  • Wrexham, 480

South Wales: 15,034

  • Newport East, 2,666
  • Llanelli, 2,187
  • Ogmore, 1,558
  • Newport West, 1,432
  • Ceredigion, 1,161
  • Neath, 972
  • Rhondda, 948
  • Brecon and Radnorshire, 881
  • Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, 787
  • Islwyn, 713
  • Vale of Glamorgan, 693
  • Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, 542
  • Aberavon, 494
  • Source: ABI

"We are running out of time to make sure that people in high-risk areas are properly protected from the devastation flooding can cause, and the ball is now in the government's court," said Otto Thoresen, the ABI director general.

The ABI claimed that, at present, people in lower risk areas paid more in premiums than would otherwise be the case to subsidise those at higher risk, and customers in high-risk areas were tied to their existing insurer.

'Priority'

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said it was supporting a programme of over £100m of flood and coastal risk management improvement schemes, with £50m from the European Regional Development Funds.

"While we cannot prevent all flooding or coastal erosion we are taking action to manage the risks and reduce the consequences."

The spokesperson said last November the Welsh government published its first National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management to develop a flood and coastal erosion risk management system "fit for Wales and flexible enough to adapt to future changes".

"The strategy looks at the issue of insurance and the Welsh government is working with the other UK governments and the Association of British Insurers to ensure the continued availability of insurance for those at risk of flooding post 2013."

Meanwhile, a committee of MPs has raised concerns about the funds available to maintain flood defences.

The Public Accounts Committee urged the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to secure a new agreement urgently.

The ABI report said that with people being asked to pay more towards flood protection in their area and take on more of the risk, the Environment Agency needed to involve communities better in decisions on flood protection.

CASE STUDY

Eira Williams, of Llandudno Junction, said: "We didn't have insurance when it happened to us in 1993 and we lost everything from downstairs.

"We have insurance now and I'm very concerned that any changes might make it more difficult for us to get cover as it provides us with peace of mind.

"I never want to go through that again, and it was thanks to family and friends that we got through it at the time."

Graham Hillier of Environment Agency Wales said it was working with individuals and communities in the most at risk areas in Wales to help find the best solution to manage the threat of flooding.

"Last year we invested in a programme of work to improve flood defences, funded by Welsh government, in Conwy and Denbighshire and conducted new flood risk modelling to better understand the risk to the area," he said.

"As a result of the work undertaken, this has resulted in reduced flood risk to almost 19,000 homes, which effectively takes these areas out of the ABI's list of most vulnerable communities."

Continued investment was "essential" so that the risk of flooding is managed for people and communities in Wales, he added.

The National Flood Forum, which provides support for people who live with the risk of floods, said it was frequently contacted by people to help them with their household insurance problems.

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