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Insurance worries amid rising waters in Britain
Question of the Day
But until that fund is built up, they want the government to back a temporary overdraft to cover any shortfalls during periods of intense flooding.
So far, there’s no deal, and people watching floodwaters rise across the country have become uneasy.
“Negotiations have hit an impasse,” Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said in a statement. “Insurers know their customers are increasingly worried about flood cover, and we will therefore continue talks with government to try and find a way forward.”
The government says the door is still open to an agreement, though it declined to get into the specifics.
But it did take time to criticize the timing of the industry’s announcement, coming as heavy rains swept across the country and forced the evacuations of hundreds of homes.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said raising the issue of insurance was causing alarm unnecessarily.
“I think the timing was unhelpful,” he told BBC last Monday. “There are a lot of people across the country who are going to face some very bad weather over the next few days. Many people are extremely worried, and I think it is not helpful to alarm people when we are in close, detailed negotiations.”
Prime Minister David Cameron raced to flooded areas Tuesday to underscore his concern.
But with images of furniture floating down streets and cars lurching in torrents of mud, the argument that more needs to be done to help people recover is tough to ignore.
Insurance and risk
Governments around the world have responded to the problem of flooding in different ways.
In Germany, coverage for flooding is offered as an optional add-on for household insurance, with some 30 percent who need it going to private insurers — although the state has stepped in to help after big disasters.
In the United States, the government partly backs flood insurance for high-risk households, as does France, the insurers’ group said.
In the Netherlands, home of the legendary boy who held back floodwaters by placing his finger in a dike, flood risk is normally excluded from property insurance policies due to the high potential loss. The Dutch government will pay compensation under some circumstances to those suffering losses that the market does not insure, though there are limits.
The National Flood Forum, a U.K. charity that represents people who are at risk of flooding, hopes that the latest troubles finally will persuade ministers and the industry to strike a deal.
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