1. ITV Report

What you can do to flood-proof your home

A house at Great Doddington in Northamptonshire surrounded by flood water. Photo: ITV Anglia

There have been clashes between the government and insurers over the issue of flood insurance.

Ministers are locked in talks with insurers over the replacement for a "safety net" deal to make sure those in flood risk areas can afford cover, which is due to expire next year. The Flood Insurance Statement of Principles commits insurers to continue to offer insurance to existing customers where they are at significant risk, if there are plans in place to reduce that risk within five years.

Town hall chiefs have warned that 200,000 are at risk of being priced out without a new deal being struck.

Anne Newman protecting her home at Great Doddington in Northamptonshire with sandbags Credit: ITV Anglia

Insurance loss assessors AKA MI Claims says there are things householders could do to help flood-proof their homes. The company says it's impossible to completely flood-proof a home but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of damage:

  • Floodgates can be purchased from DIY stores and can quickly be fitted to doors and windows to make them watertight. They are more effective than sandbags and are easy to store.
  • Airbricks should be fitted with specially designed covers.
  • Flood water can enter your home through sewerage pipes with water discharging through ground floor toilets and sinks. This can be avoided by fitting non-return valves to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes.
  • Move any valuables from the ground floor, ideally to another premises. If this is not possible, move them to the attic or the uppermost floor.
  • Ensure electricity and all other utilities are switched off.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said talks with the government over flood risk had reached a "crisis point", accusing ministers of rejecting its solution.

"We want a solution even more now after the difficult events of the weekend," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Flooding Minister Richard Benyon insisted the Government remained "really determined" to reach a deal and that the issue was an "absolute priority" for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

And he criticised the ABI for airing its concerns at the height of the crisis.

"I think it is actually rather demeaning at this particular moment in time to be talking about this," he said.

"We have had two years to sort this out. During that time the insurance industry has put a massive amount of work and money into coming up with an insurance-led solution. We seem to have reached an impasse. The Government has made it clear it's rejected our solution."

– Nick Starling, Association of British Insurers

"It is rather a shame that it has been raised at this particular moment when there are a lot of distressed people with flooded homes. What we are talking about on insurance is an absolute priority for our department but at the moment we are dealing with flooded properties and I really want to concentrate on that."

– Richard Benyon, Floods Minister

Stephen Gilbert, the Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, said the Government needs to act ensure insurance companies were able to provide home and business owners with affordable cover.

He said: "Yet again I call on the Government to reach an agreement with insurers that will keep flood insurance available and affordable. The last two days should be a wake-up call for a government that needs to grip this issue and do so quickly.

"We know that flash flooding is increasing because of climate change and there's now little we can do to stop it, but the Government must act to make sure people aren't left without insurance when the worst does happen."

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