The Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee has called for clear answers from the government about how it plans to ensure properties at risk of flooding can secure insurance in the future.
The current Statement of Principles between the government and the insurance industry which guarantees affordable cover to households at high-risk of flooding expires in June 2013. This week the Association of British Insurers claimed talks over an arrangement to succeed this had stalled.
In a letter sent to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson yesterday, Efra committee chair Anne McIntosh said the committee was 'concerned by the press reports of an impasse'.
McIntosh explained: 'It is extremely worrying to read press reports of an impasse and it is essential that the government resolves this situation quickly so that households and businesses are not left stranded without flood insurance.'
In the letter, McIntosh also called for clarity on whether recent decisions on flood defence funding had left any communities more exposed to flood risk than under previous arrangements and how government departments are preventing building in flood-prone areas.
In a note published yesterday, Fitch Ratings warned that the challenges of designing and funding a special insurance pool such as that proposed as a successor to the Statement of Principles by the ABI meant the availability of flood insurance was 'highly uncertain'.
'The expiry in June 2013 of the government and insurance industry's Statement of Principles agreement to provide insurance in high flood-risk areas, while positive for the UK insurance industry, leaves households at risk,' it said.
'Removing existing market distortions would improve the credit profiles of UK insurers as it would allow them to price flood-risk appropriately. However, affordable cover is not likely to be available without some form of government initiative.'
It added: 'A pooling of risks, which may include a government subsidy, would ensure the availability and affordability of insurance for the minority of households whose properties are located in high-flood-risk areas. Many other countries have taken this approach to catastrophe risk.'
Mohammad Khan, insurance partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the floods that have affected the UK this week were likely to lead to increases in insurance premiums across the board.
'Following the latest floods to strike the UK, we expect insurance renewal premiums to rise between 10% and 50% depending on the severity of flood damage caused,' he explained. 'Even those not affected, are very likely to see their premiums rise by up to 5% - flood damage therefore is not just a problem for those currently affected but one for the UK as a whole.'