Govt under pressure to back bill to force insurers to cover people in flood-risk areas

Govt under pressure to back bill to force insurers to cover people in flood-risk areas

Government is under pressure to back an Opposition bill seeking to force insurance firms to cover homes and businesses in flood-risk areas if State defences have been introduced.

Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner writes that Fine Gael and Independent ministers - including Office of Public Works junior minister for floods Sean Canney - will be urged to back the bill this evening when it is put down by Fianna Fáil.

Despite the OPW putting in place effective flood defences across large parts of Cork, Clare, Limerick and Galway, among other counties, after a series of damaging storms in recent years, thousands of people in the areas are being refused cover by insurance firms.

However, under a new bill being put down by Fianna Fáil, and which will be backed by Labour and other opposition parties, insurance firms will be forced to cover the claimants in the now flood defence protected areas.

Speaking about the potential law change to reporters outside the Dáil this morning, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said insurers have "failed" to help people and must now be forced to do so.

Govt under pressure to back bill to force insurers to cover people in flood-risk areas

"There is a major dispute here between the insurance industry and the ombudsman on demonstrable defences,

"We simply have to get this right.

"When insurance industry say 86% of households in areas where defences have been completed include flood cover they're ignoring the fact that many of those areas people can't get flood cover at all, or if they can the terms and conditions are so onerous that people don't opt to take out that insurance.

"It's [the bill] not saying there has to be flood cover for everyone, that's not realistic or practical, there's going to have to be a different solution in terms of insurance for people living in communities who are still at great risk of flooding," he said.

Speaking at the same event, Fianna Fáil Roscommon-Galway TD Eugene Murphy said the reality is "a lot of people have been left out there with no assistance and no help".

"The Government seem to be relying on the child of Prague, that the rain won't come. That's not going to work," he said.

While Independent Alliance TDs Mr Canney and Kevin 'Boxer' Moran are strongly in favour of improving flood protections for vulnerable households, a senior Government spokesperson said this afternoon that the Coalition has yet to decide on its position on the exact details of the Fianna Fáil bill.

However, Labour TDs Sean Sherlock and Jan O'Sullivan - whose Cork and Limerick constituencies have been ravaged by floods in recent years - said they will support the bill as there is "no logical reason" for insurers not to cover people in areas where flood defences now exist.

Govt under pressure to back bill to force insurers to cover people in flood-risk areas

Speaking at an event to launch a separate Labour bill seeking to ban the use of micro-beads in certain products, Mr Sherlock said: "There is no logical reason why insurance companies can't insure against flooding.

"The only reason I can see why the insurance companies are not insuring against flooding is on the basis that they just don't want to, there mustn't be enough profit in it for them."

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