UP TO 100,000 families are being refused flood insurance on their homes due to an unfair risk- assessment system, two Government TDs said last night.
However, the Government insists that it cannot intervene with a subsidy scheme because it would risk being "a huge and open-ended burden on the taxpayer" – nor can it oblige insurance companies to provide flood cover.
The Government has also defended delays in negotiations with insurers to re-grade flood risks in areas where tens of millions of euro have been spent on flood defences.
Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said the plight of tens of thousands of families across the country cannot be ignored. He said that apart from the worry at not being able to buy flood cover – they also face real problems if they want to sell their property.
"We are talking about people who want to buy home insurance and take responsibility for themselves. Given the weather patterns we are getting, this problem will continue to grow," he said.
Another Labour TD, Ciaran Lynch, criticised a so-called system of 'geo-coding' which marks out large swathes of areas as 'at risk' of flooding.
He said this was too general, and in some cases a veritable catch-all.
He also criticised the failure of insurance companies to change the risk-rating in areas where considerable anti-flood works have already been done.
Mr Humphreys said €25m had been spent on flood defences in recent years to protect buildings along the River Dodder in the south of Dublin city.
"But there are families who still cannot get flood insurance in these areas in spite of the risk now being rated as 'one in 200 years'," he said.
Junior Finance Minister, Brian Hayes said insurance companies cannot be forced to provide flood insurance.
He also said that setting up some form of indemnity scheme where the State, in cooperation with insurers and policy-holders, would help fund cover was not practicable either.
But the minister said he hoped a new scheme of re-grading risk where flood works had already been done completed soon.