Wednesday 22 November 2017

Householders near rivers regularly refused flood cover – but insurers deny cartel

Treacy Hogan

HOUSEHOLDERS living within 500 metres of a river are routinely refused home insurance ---even if their properties are not at risk from flooding, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

But the body representing insurance companies deny allegations about a cartel in operation.

Insurance companies are asking homeowners if they live within a 500 metres proximity to water courses, said Dail deputy Catherine Murphy.

 

“ If you live within 500 metres you are a gonner,” she said.

 

Representatives from the Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) said the question about the 500 metre zone had been standard on policy application forms for some years.

 

However, Mrs Murphy told the Oireachtas Environment committee the companies were now regularly refusing cover to people who admit their proximity to water in the application.

 

This is happening even where there is no evidence of flooding as a result, or where their house is well above water level.

 

Meetings have been held between the IIF and the Office of Public Works over flood defence works.

 

Allegations about a cartel operating in the insurance industry, made at a previous meeting of the committee, were vigorously denied yesterday by IIF chief executive Kevin Thompson who said their was no evidence whatsoever of this.

 

“Our members do not act as a cartel,” he said.

 

A total of €697m was paid out by insurance companies on flooding claims in just eight floods  over a twelve year period.

 

The industry had suffered losses of €396m between 2008 and 2010.

 

Mr Thompson said there had been an average four per cent reduction in household insurance premia, according to the most recent statistics.

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