An estimated £1.1 billion will be paid in insurance claims to people whose homes, businesses and vehicles were damaged in floods and storms this winter, according to figures released today by the British insurance industry.
Flooding Minister Dan Rogerson has described today's meeting with insurers as "positive and constructive" following flooding across the UK.
We had a positive and constructive meeting with the insurance industry on the steps that they are taking to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible after the flooding.
We were reassured that they have already put in place a range of measures to look after their customers, and we have agreed with them further steps to help the recovery process including providing a team of experts to advise on delivering the new repair and renew grants and a commitment to reviewing the cost of 24 hour flood helplines. We will continue to meet on a monthly basis to ensure an effective, coordinated response.
Insurers assured Ministers the situation is under control and that customers have been helped speedily and effectively since the flooding and bad weather began in December. They emphasised the long recovery process ahead and their commitment to helping customers through this difficult time.
Many people in Hull are still recovering from the emotional and financial costs of 2007 floods.Read the full story ›
Insurance companies have warned that it will take some months before flood and weather damage could be properly assessed and repaired.
Representatives from leading firms held a "constructive" meeting with ministers earlier today, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.
After the meeting with floods minister Dan Rogerson and the Cabinet Office's Oliver Letwin, ABI director general Otto Thoresen said: "There is some very clear evidence of a strong response, initial response from the industry.
"We have been paying out millions in emergency amounts to people to get them over the immediate problems they face in terms of alternative accommodation and the like. Now we have to go on and deal with things effectively and well."
Mr Thoresen said the industry would continue to hold regular meetings with ministers "as the process of response is delivered through the rest of this year".
The insurance industry has got its act together over how it handles flood claims, a leading independent consultant praised for her work on behalf of flooding victims has said.
The Government has said insurance firms have a "crucial role to play" in the aftermath of the crisis, as industry representatives attended a meeting at Downing Street to discuss the response.
Mary Dhonau OBE, who chairs The Flood Protection Association and is chief executive of the Know Your Flood Risk Campaign, said insurers have been "proactive" and have improved since the 2007 floods.
"I know of an instance where an insurance company has taken it on themselves to phone up their policy holders in areas where they know there has been flooding and ask if they need assistance instead of waiting for the calls to come in," Ms Dhonau revealed.
"In the last week, I have seen insurance companies setting up stands in car parks, where people have been able to make a fast-track flood claim and get general advice on making their claims even if they aren't a policy holder with that company."
Ed Miliband has called for much quicker insurance payouts to ensure flood victims can return to their homes at a faster rate.
The Labour leader, who visited flood-hit Somerset today, said families who had been forced to abandon their homes needed reassurance that they would not have to wait for months to receive insurance pay-outs.
Insurances chiefs are due to attend a meeting at Downing Street today to discuss their response to the crisis.
“Of course it takes time to repair homes damaged by flooding, but 12 months to complete an insurance claim is far too long," Mr Miliband said.
"The Government must sit down with insurers and agree a new industry standard that significantly reduces the time that people have to wait to have their houses restored and move back home.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband is on his way to the South West to discuss how families whose properties have been damaged by the flooding can claim insurance money promptly.
On my way to the South West to discuss how govt and insurers must ensure claims from families affected by floods are dealt with more quickly
Insurers have a "critical role to play" in helping deal with the impact of the flood crisis, a minister has said.
Senior representatives of leading insurance firms, including Aviva, Direct Line Group and Axa, are due at Downing Street to discuss their response.
"We all need to pull together to help those areas badly affected by the floods, so they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible," Flooding minister Dan Rogerson said.
"Insurers have a critical role to play and by working closely together we will continue to ensure that the help and support which people need is available."
The Government has called for a "stepped-up national effort" to deal with the impact of the severe weather.
More than 2,000 insurance loss adjusters say they are "ready and waiting" to assess the damage when the flood waters had subsided sufficiently.
Some 1,800 staff have been reassigned to deal with customer queries.
The sheer scale of the likely claims has raised fears of rising premiums wiping out recent falls.
Summer floods in 2007 resulted in a hit of more than £3 billion.
Insurance bosses will meet ministers later to discuss their response to the flood crisis after it emerged victims have received £14 million in emergency payments so far.
Senior representatives of leading firms are due at 10 Downing Street for talks over the Government's calls for a "stepped-up national effort" to deal with the impact of the extreme weather.
They have been asked to demonstrate what efforts they are making to get households back on their feet "as quick and as simple as possible", Number 10 said.
On top of the £14 million in successful insurance claims - typically between £500 to £3,000 - £24 million has been paid out for emergency accommodation, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.