Insurance bosses will meet with ministers at Downing Street later today to discuss their response to the floods and what can be done to accelerate help for affected households
The Insurance Industry Flood Response Summit will consider what practical actions are underway, in the immediate and longer-term, to get people back on their feet after the winter flooding caused widespread disruption across southern England. The talks will also examine the steps the industry is taking to ensure the claims process is a 'quick and simple as possible'.
ABI director general Otto Thoresen pointed out that the industry had not been idle. Flood victims had already received £14m in emergency payments since December 23, while an additional £24m has been paid out for emergency accommodation.
More than 2,000 loss adjusters are 'ready and waiting' for the waters to go down before they can assess the damage and 1,800 staff have been reassigned to customer facing roles, he added.
'Today's meeting is a chance for the industry to update the government on the operational response,' Thoresen said.
Along with Thoresen, the chief executives of Aviva, Direct Line Group, Axa, Lloyds Banking Group and Ageas, the claims directors of RSA and underwriting director of Axa are due to attend the meeting. Between them they represent 60% of the UK insurance market.
On the government side will be flooding minister Dan Rogerson and Cabinet Office ministers Oliver Letwin and Jo Johnson.
Ahead of the talks, Rogerson said efforts needed to deal with the aftermath of the floods require a 'stepped-up national effort' and insurers had a critical role to play.
'We all need to pull together to help those areas baldly affected by the floods, so they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible,' he said.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to ask insurers to make pay outs to affected households within a month. He will also propose that a new industry standard is set to significantly reduce the maximum time people have to wait for their claims to be completed and return home. Currently, this process can take up to a year, Labour said.
But, the ABI have said the time taken to repair a flooded property varied widely.
'Typically it can take six to nine months to dry, decontaminate and repair a flooded property, but each situation is different,' said Aidan Kerr, head of property, fraud and specialist lines at the ABI.
'Trying to set an artificial deadline is therefore counterproductive; the most important thing for customers is to understand that recovering from a flood can be a long and complex process, but it is one that their insurer will do everything possible to make as straightforward as possible.'