AS late autumn and winter approach bringing the threat of unmanageable levels of rainfall, those living in homes or working in businesses that have been regularly flooded must feel increasingly apprehensive.
Those who have been refused flood insurance or offered minimal cover at impossible rates must feel even more apprehensive. It is a very difficult situation and there is no obvious, quick-fix solution.
Some insurance companies have refused to offer clients cover based on assessments of Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) maps that have been prepared by the Office of Public Works, even though these maps were not intended for commercial use. This adds another layer of stress to an already fraught situation and, once again, there is no obvious, quick-fix solution.
Because insurance companies are usually private businesses focused exclusively on profit the idea of providing a service underpinning a social good carries little weight in their calculations. Because of this the State has occasionally been the insurer of last resort, as in the case of Voluntary Health Insurance cover. It may be time to consider how an already stretched State can offer some support to those caught between rising flood waters and don’t-want-to-know insurance companies. This cannot be an open-ended commitment and must come with a non-negotiable condition — an absolute veto on any new building in vulnerable areas.
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