Insurers dig in over Cabinet demands on flood cover

Insurers have refused to budge on a government request to provide flood insurance for areas where movable defences have already been constructed.

Enda Kenny and a number of ministers met with representatives of the insurance industry earlier this month to discuss cover for flood-prone homes and businesses.

At the time, Mr Kenny said people living in towns where flood defences exist must be given flood insurance.

At present, 22% of properties cannot get insurance despite being in areas where demountable defences have been built.

It is understood insurers have written to Mr Kenny in recent days to say there are still “difficulties” in providing cover to areas with demountable defences.

The Government is even more concerned about the one in 10 properties, or 11%, that have not been provided insurance even though they are situated in areas where permanent flood defences have been put in place.

Tackling the issue of insurance was one of a number of announcements made by the Government to help flood-prone areas in the wake of storm Desmond which destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and left thousands of acres of farm land under water.

Insurers were asked to get back to him on providing cover, especially in areas like Fermoy, Co Cork, where barriers are erected across a road in the town at times of flooding.

However, the insurers have agreed to enhance their memorandum of understanding with the OPW.

Before the meeting on January 12, Mr Kenny said: “The stories I am getting is that people are still unable to get insurance for their homes. We need to tease that out. There is of course a difference between those places which have not had flood defences put in and towns that have defences which are proven to work.”

It comes as the terms of reference for the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group were approved by Government yesterday.

Clare McGrath of the OPW will chair the group and all state agencies with a role in the flood-risk management of the Shannon Catchment will take part. The first meeting will be held next week.

Although the Government is satisfied demountables work just as well as permanent defences, Insurance Ireland said it “has always insisted that the fixed defence approach is essential when building flood defences and our findings continue to show that flood coverage rates are at their highest where fixed defences are built. While demountable flood defences are effective where correctly deployed, there are significant interdependencies, including manual intervention, which significantly increase the risk of failure, particularly over time”.

Despite the Taoiseach’s request to provide cover, they said insurers “have a limited risk appetite for providing flood insurance in these areas”.

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Government announces plan for new group to combat  River Shannon floodingGovernment announces plan for new group to combat River Shannon flooding


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