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Flood bill of €127m sparks fears of insurance hikes

THE clean-up bill for the severe floods last October has come in at €127m, insurance firms said yesterday.

This has prompted fears that home insurance costs would rise this year.

Homeowners have been spared rises in premiums for home cover in the last year, with the Central Statistics Office latest inflation figures showing a fall in household insurance rates in the previous 12 months.

The Irish Insurance Federation said 6,703 customers had made claims due to the October washout.

A total of €59m worth of claims came from commercial properties, €58m came from households, and a further €10m was allocated to motor claims.

The Insurance Federation's Michael Horan said: "The October floods caused significant destruction during a very short time frame and insurers worked with customers to ensure they were back on track as fast as possible."

He added: "This money was injected back into the economy creating employment through repair work carried out to homes and businesses."

Four bad weather events going back to 2010 meant that the combined bill has now come close to €900m.

But insurance brokers said the high costs of the floods and freezes would put pressure on premiums.

Brian McNelis of the Irish Brokers' Association said the adverse weather events had already pushed up premiums by between 25pc and 30pc.

"We anticipate that further rate increases may occur when the combined impact affects the negotiations by insurers of their reinsurance programmes in 2012."

He said that households should act now to ensure they have the best value insurance cover.

The National Consumer Agency said that consumers should be prepared to bargain when seeking an insurance quote.

"If you get a good quote from one company, it is usually worthwhile to see if your existing insurer is prepared to match it or do better, in order to keep your business," a spokesman said.

Irish Independent