Blanc-led flooding review finds gaps in awareness

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The independent review into flood insurance in Doncaster, led by Amanda Blanc, found gaps in people’s awareness of their options in areas at risk of flooding.

Blanc, who is now chief executive officer of Aviva, took on the government-commissioned Independent Review of Flood Insurance in Doncaster in April, following serious flooding in South Yorkshire in November 2019. It set out to examine the level of insurance held by those affected and the barriers they faced in obtaining cover.

The report found that 97% of owner-occupiers had at least one of buildings or contents insurance, with 95% having both. This compares with 94% for households at risk of flooding in a 2018 report. But around 6% (25 homes) did not have flood cover included in their policy.

The review recommended that insurers and intermediaries do more to help people get the right insurance, and that landlords in high flood risk areas provide renters with details of the building’s insurance cover at the start of their tenancy, including the support that would be provided by the insurer to the tenant in the event of a flood.

Combined with better guidance to tenants from local authorities, this would help people to make fully informed decisions when purchasing contents insurance, according to the independent review.

The review also urged the government to explore how it could use its existing powers to compel both private and social housing landlords to comply with this requirement, including through legislation.

Blanc said: “I was concerned to discover that although the majority of Doncaster residents had sensibly protected themselves with insurance, some of these policyholders had been sold cover which specifically excluded flood risk. In an area of such high flood concern like Doncaster, it was disappointing to find this essential insurance peril had been omitted for some–particularly as Flood Re was developed and exists to address this.”

“In addition, too many tenants found themselves with no insurance to help them recover from a catastrophic situation. This was particularly prevalent in places like Bentley where there is a large proportion of younger people on lower incomes living in rented accommodation.”

“The impact of flooding for people already living in less fortunate situations can be even more profound. With the risk of flooding in the UK increasing, it is vital that we do all we can to help those most at risk to get the support they need.”

Commenting on the independent review, James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers, said: “The insurance industry welcomes the recommendations in [Amanda Blanc’s] report on what more can be done to ensure our flood risk communities have the flood insurance protection that they need. We are committed to working together with the community, government, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association and Flood Re to implement these recommendations in full.”

Dalton continued: “Being on the front line helping their customers after a flood, insurers appreciate the devastating impact flooding can have on households and businesses, and the worry this brings to those at high flood risk. Insurers responded quickly to the flooding in south Yorkshire last November, dealing with over 4,000 claims and making payments of nearly £150 million to help people recover. They continue to do everything possible to ensure any outstanding claims are resolved.”

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the government “will now review these recommendations while working with stakeholders to address the challenges exposed by events in South Yorkshire last year”.

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk