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Flood Risk Insurance in Morpeth - click here to read full article

May 4, 2016 6:56 PM
By Cllr David Parker

This Statement is about the recent widespread experience of the Town's householders in the high risk flood areas to obtain affordable flood risk insurance.

At the outset, I want to point out that the situation is still somewhat fluid - those in the best position to do so have given me relevant information, so that the Council can assist, by either disseminating it to the public or by taking steps to get decision-makers to address the problem.

Over the past few weeks, Alan Bell of the Morpeth Flood Action Group has made me aware of the difficulties that many Morpeth householders in the high flood risk areas have experienced, when seeking to re-insure their property. Most have been faced with big increases in premiums or/and excesses. The estate agent, Charles Robinson, has also told me that estate agents are finding it very difficult, if not impossible, to sell property in the high risk flood areas, because purchasers have been unable to secure insurance cover, so that mortgage providers will not advance the necessary finance. I therefore got in touch with Ian Lavery, MP, who has taken these matters up with the appropriate Minister. You will have seen this reported by Ian in his weekly article recently in the Morpeth Herald.

Over recent months, many householders have informed the MFAG of their lack of success, when seeking to reinsure their properties, to persuade their insurance companies to take cognisance of the information provided to them by the Environment Agency about the current flood risk to their properties. Until recently, it was thought that this was due to the failure of the EA to update its maps since the alleviation scheme was opened. However, events in recent days suggest otherwise, as many insurance companies appear to have been waiting for the introduction of Flood Re, before making available affordable premiums.

Since the introduction of Flood Re on 4th April, the situation does appear to have changed. Over twenty insurance Companies or insurance brokers are listed on the Flood Re website, as intending to apply Flood Re to properties in high flood risk areas. Some Morpeth residents have succeeded in getting big reductions in their premiums/or and their excesses as a result. One or two householders have been spontaneously telephoned by their insurance company, asking if they would like a new quotation applying Flood Re. At the moment, it seems that many insurance companies are using Flood Re for Morpeth properties in the high flood risk areas. The Flood Re organisation has assured me that the updating of the flood maps by the Environment Agency on 3rd May will not necessarily mean that Morpeth properties cannot be put in too Flood Re by their insurers. So anyone wishing to get insurance cover is advised to look at the Flood Re website before telephoning insurance companies. Telephoning seems to be more effective than doing business on line.

What is particularly pleasing is that the work done by the Liberal-Democrat-led Town Council between 2010 and 2014, with its MFAG and Chamber of Trade partners, has produced something, which will undoubtedly provide householders in high flood risk areas with affordable flood risk insurance. What is particularly pleasing is that Flood Re is essentially the proposal devised by the Morpeth Flood Risk Insurance Working Group, when it submitted proposals to the Government and the Insurance Industry in 2011 and 2012.

Statement by Cllr David Parker - Chair, Finance & General Purposes Committee, Morpeth Town Council