THE INEQUITIES of the insurance industry are already well-known in this region – ask any property owner caught up in the floods of recent years about the problems obtaining affordable premiums, particularly in those areas that are more vulnerable to rapidly rising water. Despite Government assurances, many homeowners now have no cover whatsoever.
It could be the same with fracking. As The Yorkshire Post’s inquiries reveal, any subsidence, or damage, caused by the extraction of shale gas near Kirby Misperton – or anywhere else – come under the auspices of buildings insurance and the onus will be on policy-holders to make a claim and prove they’re not at fault.
The greater problem, however, could come if the insurance industry deems a community to be a fracking hotspot and raises premiums because of the increased risk of costly claims being made. Like flooding victims, homeowners may find that they’re priced out of insurance cover by changes in energy exploration and policy that took place long after they moved to the area in question.
Much, of course, rests with Business Secretary Greg Clark who says Third Energy must undergo – and pass – financial health checks – before it can be given the green light to undertake test fracking at Kirby Misperton after the firm failed to submit its accounts on time.
Yet, while Mr Clark’s objection is based on the state of Third Energy’s finances rather than the practice of fracking which is endorsed by, amongst others, Theresa May, he would be advised to use this interlude to work with the Association of British Insurers to provide clear guidelines on where responsibility will lie if the worst fears of residents do prove to be well-founded.
To begin, the onus should be on fracking firms like Third Energy and Ineos to prove the industry is safe, even more so given the number of countries that have now banned the practice, before reaching a moratorium of understanding with the ABI and the Government so claimants and homeowners are not left out of pocket through no fault of their own.
That would be the best insurance policy of all.