Too many people in flood-hit Doncaster were without insurance, says major review by Aviva chief Amanda Blanc

A number of people whose homes were flooded in South Yorkshire a year ago were sold insurance cover which "specifically excluded flood risk", according to a long-awaited review.

Amanda Blanc, the group chief executive officer at insurance firm Aviva, said insurers and intermediaries should do more to help people get the right insurance as she examined the flooding in Doncaster last November which left 760 properties under water.

Her review was commissioned by the Government in the aftermath of the events in South Yorkshire, said landlords in high flood risk areas should provide renters with details of the building’s insurance cover at the start of their tenancy.

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Boris Johnson meets locals in flood-hit South Yorkshire.Boris Johnson meets locals in flood-hit South Yorkshire.
Boris Johnson meets locals in flood-hit South Yorkshire.
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This would include the support provided by the insurer to the tenant in the event of a flood, something which would help make fully informed decisions when purchasing contents insurance.

The review by Ms Blanc, the former chair of the Association of British Insurers, was supposed to be published last month but has been delayed until today.

It set out to examine the level of insurance held by those affected and the barriers they faced in obtaining cover.

The report found that 97 per cent of owner-occupiers had at least one of buildings or contents insurance, with 95 per cent having both. But around six per cent, a total of 25 homes, did not have flood cover included in their policy.

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Ms Blanc said: “I was concerned to discover that although the majority of Doncaster residents had sensibly protected themselves with insurance, some of these policyholders had been sold cover which specifically excluded flood risk.

"In an area of such high flood concern like Doncaster, it was disappointing to find this essential insurance peril had been omitted for some.

“In addition, too many tenants found themselves with no insurance to help them recover from a catastrophic situation.

"This was particularly prevalent in places like Bentley where there is a large proportion of younger people on lower incomes living in rented accommodation.

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“The impact of flooding for people already living in less fortunate situations can be even more profound. With the risk of flooding in the UK increasing, it is vital that we do all we can to help those most at risk to get the support they need.”

More than 1,000 homes and 564 businesses were affected by South Yorkshire flooding on November 7 2019, with 700 houses deemed unlivable in Doncaster alone.

A month’s rainfall fell that day, with 1,200 homeowners told to evacuate. There were 2,000 calls to the council’s emergency helpline, 51 roads were closed and 80,000 sandbags issued.

Boris Johnson was criticised for his response to the flooding, which he declared to be not serious enough to represent a national emergency.

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The review will now be considered by the Government, which is under pressure to act elsewhere in Yorkshire after heavy rainfall left several areas of York underwater.

It also recommends that the Government should consider the broader case for legislating to require landlords to have buildings insurance that protects tenants in the event that the property is uninhabitable for an extended period.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: "In the meantime, we are continuing to support the recovery of communities hit by last year’s floods, recently extending the £5,000 grant scheme available to homes and businesses in affected areas.

"The Environment Agency is also completing a programme of repairs to ensure our defences are ready for the coming winter.”

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Labour's Doncaster MP Ed Miliband said: “I’m pleased that Amanda Blanc’s review recognises the devastation caused to my constituents by the floods in Doncaster and the way that was made worse by the difficulties faced by so many people in getting affordable flood insurance. I look forward to reading the findings and recommendations in full.

“I will be examining them to see whether they are strong enough to tackle the issues with flood exclusions in insurance policies, huge insurance excesses and unaffordable premiums. There must be big change in all these areas. The jury is out on whether these recommendations go far enough to do that.

“Unfortunately, the issues with insurers go beyond the scope of the review. People are still battling with insurance firms over their claims and some have not been able to return to their homes, something I have discussed with both the ABI snd FCA. A year on from the floods, this just isn’t acceptable and I would also like to see the Government focussing their energy on tackling these firms.”

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