On 27 December 2019 the then Secretary of State, my right hon. the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers), commissioned an independent review following the severe flooding in South Yorkshire in November 2019. The River Don recorded its highest ever peak flows at Rotherham and Doncaster, with South Yorkshire experiencing its wettest November on record—seeing over two and a half times its average rainfall and over 760 properties reported as having flooded.
This independent review has been led by Amanda Blanc, former chair of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) who was appointed on 14 April 2020 and was supported by BMG Research. Amanda Blanc has provided me with a comprehensive report that sets out her findings into why some residents of Doncaster did not have sufficient insurance cover, and in some cases no insurance at all. Where necessary, it considers and makes recommendations for action to mitigate the impact of future flood events. Full terms of reference for the review can be found on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-insurance-review-2020-blanc-review
I would like to thank Amanda for her investigation and recommendations, which the Government will now consider.
This report sets out the findings of the review in relation to the level of insurance cover held by those affected in Doncaster, the barriers they may have faced in obtaining cover and whether there are any systemic issues in the provision of flood insurance.
The report identifies that 95% of homeowners were able to confirm that they had both buildings and contents insurance. This compares with 94% of households at risk of flooding in DEFRA’s national 2018 survey looking at the availability and affordability of flood insurance. I am pleased that this shows the sustained availability of home insurance for homeowners especially in this area of high flood risk. However, among homeowners who had insurance, 6% of buildings insurance policies did not cover flooding, and 7% of contents insurance policies did not cover flooding.
The report also found that there were significant differences between the insurance cover held by homeowners and tenants, and that
“owner-occupiers were generally far better protected than renters”.
While tenants are responsible for arranging their contents insurance, they do not organise their buildings insurance as this is the responsibility of landlords. The evidence shows that only 25% of tenants had contents insurance that covered flood damage. The report identifies reasons why tenants did not have suitable contents insurance that covered against the risk of flooding, such as the cost of the insurance, the time it takes to renew the insurance policy, and not being able to find a quote that included flood cover.
The report makes 12 recommendations for actions that can be taken by the insurance industry, Flood Re, landlords, local authorities, the Government and others to help enable homes and businesses to access sufficient insurance cover for flooding, while also informing any future policy decisions in this area:
Four recommendations focus on the role of insurers, insurance brokers and their representative bodies in helping customers find the most suitable flood insurance to cover individual needs.
Two recommendations focus on the need for landlords to make sure tenants are adequately supported in the case of a flood event.
Two recommendations relate to the need for further evidence gathering at a national scale, through a repeat of a national 2018 survey on the affordability and availability of insurance.
One recommendation calls for Flood Re to reduce the cost of its contents insurance premium for council tax band A and B properties.
Other recommendations focus on the need for increased awareness of flood risk for communities, highlighting the role of local authorities, the Environment Agency and representative bodies.
The report will be published today on gov.uk.
This review is essential in identifying some of the barriers that are in place for residents in high flood risk areas and understanding how we can take positive action to improve the protection available to residents moving forward.
The Government will be working with the insurance industry, Flood Re and the Environment Agency to explore the recommendations within the report and will respond formally to the recommendations in due course.