Sunday 11 December 2016

Kenny gives insurance firms deadline to explain why they are refusing flood cover

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Published 12/01/2016 | 14:38

The Taoiseach said he wants insurers to address 'the contradiction' between their claims that they are insuring homes where flood defences are put in place, and the stories he is hearing from people on the ground. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Taoiseach said he wants insurers to address 'the contradiction' between their claims that they are insuring homes where flood defences are put in place, and the stories he is hearing from people on the ground. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has given insurance companies one week to come back with a report on why they are refusing to insure some homes even after flood defences are put in place.

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A meeting between Mr Kenny and six of the main insurers today focused on the use of temporary flood walls known as ‘demountables’.

These types of defences require some human input ahead of rivers bursting their banks and are used in Mallow, Clonmel, Fermoy and along the River Dodder in Dublin.

A source told independent.ie that insurance companies cited these types of defences as a key reason why homes are not being insured.

However, government representatives argued they are widely used across Europe and are at a standard that is considered safe by the EU.

“Essentially demountables are permanent flood defences but they are not left up permanently,” said a source.

“They can involve things like a wall across a main road so it wouldn’t be practical to leave them up all the time but they do met EU standards.”

The meeting heard that 67pc of home and business have access to insurance where demountable flood defences are operated.

Mr Kenny asked the insurance companies to review their policy surrounding temporary flood defences of this nature and to report back within one week.

“He told them to look at other countries. Ministers made the point that they want to do this in conjunction with the insurers,” said a source.

Meanwhile, Joan Burton has said the prospect of slapping a new levy on the insurance companies is still an option available to the Government.

But she warned against any move that would result in a “general rise in everyone’s insurance premium”.

Speaking at a Labour Party event in Dublin, Ms Burton described today’s meeting with the insurance industry as “robust and productive”.

But she was unable to provide any concrete measures that have emerged from the meeting which will provide relief to homeowners affected.

“The insurance industry obviously has to manage risk. But they are also a fairly profitable industry and they have to have a sense of responsibility towards people in the country, particularly people who have been customers over all of their period of time and occupation in their home,” Ms Burton told reporters.

“To have either excessive premiums or no cover offered obviously is an extremely difficult issue for individuals and households and they were left in no doubt about that and we want those particular issues addressed,” she added.

On the issue of a future levy, Ms Burton said such a measure was discussed.

“I think what we have to do first of all is just get our facts because there is different circumstances on the grounds in parts of the country and what the families affected want is solutions. So at this stage, I’m not going to pre-judge, but of course, that mechanism has been used on several occasions in Ireland.”

But she suggested that this move could see higher premiums for all policy holders.

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