Thousands of UK homeowners could lose insurance policies over floods
Published 26/11/2012 | 13:22
More than 200,000 British householders were warned they could lose their home insurance policies.
Three people have died since the latest bout of severe weather struck, forcing hundreds of people to flee water-logged properties.
Some 530 flood warnings and alerts remained in place today as insurance chiefs hit out at the British Government, claiming negotiations over future cover have hit an impasse and are now at "crisis point".
The two sides are locked in talks relating to the replacement of a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood risk areas can continue to afford their policies which are set to expire next year.
Insurers have called on the Government to provide a temporary overdraft facility to pay claims for 200,000 high-risk households in the event of serious flooding such as that seen in 2007.
Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), accused ministers of rejecting its proposals.
"We want a solution even more now after the difficult events of the weekend," he said.
"We have had two years to sort this out. During that time the insurance industry has put a massive amount of work and money into coming up with an insurance-led solution.
"We seem to have reached an impasse. The Government has made it clear it's rejected our solution."
But Floods Minister Richard Benyon insisted the Government remained "really determined" to reach a deal and that the issue was an "absolute priority" for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
He criticised the ABI for airing its concerns at the height of the crisis.
"I think it is actually rather demeaning at this particular moment in time to be talking about this," he said.
"It is rather a shame that it has been raised at this particular moment when there are a lot of distressed people with flooded homes."
The Environment Agency said a total of 901 properties have been flooded during the latest period of bad weather.
It has issued flood warning messages to 70,684 households in the past few days.
Forecasters warned of more trouble ahead as a band of persistent rain moves across northern England and North Wales, with County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and the Conwy area of North Wales likely to be worst affected.
Heavy showers are also forecast in Wiltshire, Dorset and central southern England, while gale-force winds are likely to hit the northern coast of Cornwall, the north-east coast of England and parts of Wales.
The Prime Minister has promised the Government would "ensure everything is being done to help".
David Cameron's comments came as thousands of motorists across the country were being rescued from the roads.
There were devastating scenes in Devon where a 21-year-old woman was killed and two people were seriously injured in Western Way, Exeter, when they were crushed by a tree as wild winds whipped southern England.
It followed the death of a man on Thursday, who was killed when his car became wedged under a bridge near a ford in Rectory Fields, Chew Stoke, Somerset.
A 50-year-old man also died after falling into a canal in Watford on Saturday.
Kevin Wilkinson was walking with friends along a towpath near Wiggenhall Road in Watford shortly after 4am when it is believed he fell in.
Cambridgeshire Police said the death of a 70-year-old man whose car plunged into a river near Earith, on Saturday night, was not weather related.
Up to 0.6in (15mm) of rain is expected to fall across the spine of Britain today, less than the 1.2in (30mm) of rain in pockets of the West Country or the 1.6in (40mm) to 2in (50mm) possible in the North and North Wales, but meteorologists said it would offer little respite to weary homeowners keen to begin the clean-up.
Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said: "There is more rain around today. The hotspots are in North Wales and north-east England but obviously because there has been so much rain, that could cause problems in other areas."
Amber alerts have been issued for the north-east of England and North Wales.