“Hundreds of thousands of householders in flood risk areas have failed to install basic protection against rising waters, insurers say.
The Association of British Insurers said even buildings guarded by flood defences should have flood-proof doors in case embankments are over-topped.
The comments add to a complex blame game over responsibility for floods.
The insurers have been criticised by the Environment Agency for failing to protect inundated properties.
Local councils are also part of the melee – they want more cash for flood funding from the government, and more control of how it is spent. They are critical of the Environment Agency.
Ministers are in the fray too, as demands increase for tighter building standards to ensure at-risk homes are made more flood resistant.
Some of these tensions around flood policy are revealed in an unpublicised report to government that ministers plan to launch in coming weeks.
In the report, the Environment Agency blames insurers for failing to prepare for the increased threat of flooding.
The insurers, the agency says, should not simply re-instate flooded homes to their original state – they should ensure properties are resistant or resilient to future floods.
Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the agency, says: “There is a disconnect between insurance reinstatement and resilient repair of property.
“Loss adjustors and builders do not understand the benefits of resilient measures.
“It is not clear that the insurance industry value property-level resilience or incentivising people to have it.”
That is despite research suggesting that precautionary measures are extremely good value.
The report’s main author, Sir Peter Bonfield, points the finger at householders for failing to improve their homes after flooding. …
… Finally, there remains the public. Comments made to me on trips to flood-hit areas in Devon [Topsham, Radio 4 Today programme today] and Cumbria suggest many reasons why owners of at-risk homes and businesses do not flood-proof their properties.
They include: distrust of builders; inability to get grants unless they have already been flooded; dislike of form-filling; uncertainty about flood protection products; complacency about future flooding; lack of help from insurance companies… or simply (and in many cases most powerfully), they can’t get round to it.”