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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005, 14:01 GMT
No premium cut on flood-risk homes
By Sonia Rothwell
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

This home depicts shows tiled floor, plastic skirting boards and so on
Insurers are recommending the changes to minimise flood damage

A leading insurer has said it will not necessarily cut premiums if householders make their homes more flood resilient.

But it has said it "may" look at reducing excesses - the amount of the claim the customer has to pay - as well as continuing to offer householders' insurance.

Norwich Union has said people living in areas at risk of flooding should put in place measures such as floodgates and ceramic floor tiles.

The company has recently invested 30,000 in a Housing Association property in Suffolk to show what can be done to help protect homes from the impact of a flood.

Would you be prepared to make changes to your home?
Improvements that have been made include installing electricity points at a higher level, replacing MDF kitchen units with steel ones and laying ceramic floor tiles to replace carpets.

Other measures that can be put in place include floodgates, which cost around 69 and can prevent floodwater getting into properties through front and back doors.

But even if householders carry out some of these suggestions, their investment may not be reflected in cheaper insurance premiums.

Continuing insurability

Jill Boulton, Norwich Union
If you can keep your claims down then premiums will reflect that
Jill Boulton, Norwich Union
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme, Norwich Union's flood adviser Jill Boulton said: "It isn't about reducing premiums it's about continuing insurability.

"Insurance premiums reflect the cost that insurance companies are paying in claims.

"If you can keep your claims down then premiums will reflect that."

But Mary Dhonau, co-ordinator at the organisation which campaigns on behalf of people affected by flooding, the National Flood Forum, said more needs to be done by the insurance industry and the government.

"I would really like to see excesses reduced," she told the programme.

"The worst case scenario I've heard, in London, was an excess of 20,000. So technically you have insurance but in practise you haven't.

"How many people have actually got 20,000 stashed away to put their home back?"

"I would like to call on the government to give people grants to make their homes flood resilient."

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has just announced new steps the industry had taken to make sure more homes could get insurance despite being at risk of flooding.

ABI Director of General Insurance Nick Starling said: "Insurers will maintain existing cover for customers in high risk areas where flood defences are planned for completion in five years."

This will extend the ABI's current agreement that is due to run out in 2007, so insurance will now be offered under these terms until 2010.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 12 November, 2005, at 1204 GMT.

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