Insurers using OPW maps to refuse home flood cover

Insurers are blatantly flouting the rules by using OPW maps, not meant for commercial use, to refuse homeowners flood insurance, the minister responsible for flood prevention has claimed.

Sean Canney has hit out at insurers who, he claims, are using Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) maps to refuse cover to households.

The Galway East TD said the OPW has been compiling these maps to develop a national policy for flood risk management, and they “are not to be used for commercial purposes”.

He said many people are now being left with no choice but to accept increased bills as they are being refused insurance by many firms and often can only get cover from a single company.

The OPW minister of state has also vented frustration at insurers, who he said are still refusing to cover people living in areas where demountable barriers have been put in place. He said the insurance industry is still “not really engaging” with his department and continue to refuse insurance in areas where the OPW has built removable flood defences.

Mr Canney said: “The other thing that is happening and it’s wrong is members of Insurance Ireland are refusing to take on cover based on CFRAM maps. Insurance Ireland members should not be using these maps.”

Flood barriers being put in Mallow, Co Cork last January
Flood barriers being put in Mallow, Co Cork last January

He urged homeowners who have been refused cover based on CFRAM maps to ask for written confirmation.

“I am advising people who have been refused to ask for it in writing. I would encourage people who have evidence to come forward.”

Mr Canney is due to meet with members of the insurance industry soon, but he said he would also be asking the Department of Finance to get involved in a bid to tackle the issue.

A spokesman for Insurance Ireland said: “The OPW disclaimer for the draft flood maps under the CFRAM programme states they cannot be relied upon for decision-making purposes, including setting insurance policies, premiums or policy excesses.

“Insurance Ireland members would not generally use these draft flood mapping tools to determine flood risks as they generally use their own flood modelling for this purpose.

“Insurers also generally use additional publicly available information as part of wider appraisals to inform themselves.”

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