Monday 5 December 2016

'Flaws' in system that denies homes flood insurance

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Catherine Murphy TD. Photo: Tom Burke
Catherine Murphy TD. Photo: Tom Burke

The Central Bank needs to carry out an investigation into how insurance companies decide homes are at risk of flooding, a new report has recommended.

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A committee of TDs and senators has found evidence that insurance firms are using flood prediction maps to avoid providing cover for properties at the remotest risk.

The Oireachtas Committee on Environment found there are flaws in the geo-coding of areas for flood risk that prevent homeowners getting insurance.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy said she knows of situations where houses on hills are refused cover because they are considered to be in a flood-risk area.

"Today there are people in the position that their homes were never flooded but they can't get insurance," she said.

"There is a big issue with the insurance company taking advantage of the flood mapping and actually avoiding even the remotest risk," she added.

The committee's 156-page report, entitled 'Flooding and Property Insurance in Ireland', comes in the wake of the devastation wreaked by Storm Desmond across the country last week.

The report says the flood insurance issue needs a "systematic investigation" by the Central Bank to determine its extent and advise on appropriate measures.

Moral

Labour TD Michael McCarthy said: "It's not logical and neither is it fair or moral that people in areas that aren't affected by flooding can't get insurance.

"If the evidence proves that insurance companies aren't stepping up to the plate, then Government will have to resort to measures that will put that right."

However, he said that the committee did not see fit to endorse a levy on all home insurance to subsidise cover for those in high-risk areas.

The committee heard from organisations representing those who have been excluded from flood cover, or who are at risk of being excluded, that their homes are no longer mortgage-able and the value of their homes plummets.

The report also recommends that the Government give consideration to a ban on future building on flood plains and in low-lying coastal areas.

It urges sustained levels of State investment in flood defences and river maintenance in vulnerable areas.

With regards to the River Shannon, it says water levels should be reduced "to the lowest level consistent with navigation purposes so that the river is able to take additional water at critical times".

Another recommendation is for flood warning systems to be rolled out nationwide.

Irish Independent

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