NU warning on flood premiums

CHRIS FISHER, EDP Political Editor The owners of up to 3,000 properties in Norfolk could be threatened with huge hikes in home insurance premiums because of the increased flooding risk from global warming, the Norwich Union warned today.

CHRIS FISHER, EDP Political Editor

The owners of up to 3,000 properties in Norfolk could be threatened with huge hikes in home insurance premiums because of the increased flooding risk from global warming, the Norwich Union warned today.

There was a great mismatch between an average current premium of £320 and a typical payout on a flooding claim of £30,000, said Jill Boulton, the flood manager for the insurance giant. And the companies might get into a position of asking for much higher new premiums, of up to 10 times the current charge, for properties in areas subject to a significant risk of flooding - unless action was taken to safeguard the buildings and contents.

Up to 3,000 properties in Norfolk could be in that position, she added, out of a national total of just under 250,000. And in such cases the moves to improve the “resilience” of the property and reduce crippling increases in premiums would include replacing carpets with tiles and raising kitchen appliances off the floor.

Ms Boulton said she felt there was an attitude of “complacency” in the government about the flooding threat after listening to environment and climate change minister Ian Pearson outline its latest thinking at a meeting in the Commons.

“Global warming is happening. We have to take more action”, she said. And she called for increased spending on flood defences and on drainage systems. Drains designed to cope with storms that could be expected only once every 10 years could not handle the “the one in 100 years” downpours that were being experienced with increasing frequency, she said.

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Having increased flood defence spending by over 30pc since it came to power, the government has cut it this year because of extra expenditure incurred in fighting bird flu and in dealing with the blunders over single farm payment subsidies.

Mr Pearson, who visited north Norfolk in August to study its coastal defence problems reiterated today that he wants a dialogue on “social justice” compensation for people who bought properties many years ago and thought they would be defended for ever. But he made no commitment.

He promised Yarmouth MP Tony Wright that he would visit the town with officials to look at ways of tackling its recurring flooding problems.