Plea for help as West Cumbrian flood insurance crisis grows

Thursday, 19 July 2012 a Plea for help as West Cumbrian flood insurance crisis grows as reported by the Times & Star: Some Cockermouth householders can no longer afford to pay for flood insurance. The scale of Cockermouth’s flood insurance crisis can be revealed today as residents continue to struggle with issues more than two-and-a-half years on from the November 2009 floods.Many fear that a change in national flood insurance rules from next year will leave them without cover.

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham has raised the issue in Parliament.

The Government’s statement of principles about flood insurance, which makes insurance available for most customers at significant flood risk, is due to end next year.

It could mean many people could be left without insurance unless a solution is reached to replace the principles.

But many town residents are already struggling to pay their premiums.

Ross Cameron, 52, of Waterloo Street, said: “This year my premium is just under £2,000, when it was £600 before”.

“As soon as you tell insurers your postcode they are not interested.

“If you can’t get insurance the price of your property goes down and it is harder to sell, so if the statement of principles is not replaced it could have significant effects.”

Wot Blowers, 64, of Gote Road, has decided not to insure her house against flooding as she cannot afford it.

She said: “I had a premium of more than £3,000 and, although I wanted to negotiate, the company refused and there was no way I was going to accept it.”

Steve Stainton, 49, of Challoner Street, Cockermouth, is still waiting for insurance money due from the floods and has called in the financial ombudsman.

He said: “I have had horrendous problems but it still could be six months or a year before we get an answer on whether we will get the rest.

“If something is not done regarding the statement of principles we could end up with a ghost town as businesses wouldn’t set up.”

Len Haughin, 58, of Gote Road, said he was left without insurance after the floods and only managed to get a deal after help from Age UK.

Sue Cashmore, chairman of the Cockermouth Flood Action Group, and a resident of Gote Road, said: “I am paying £1,200 a year which has quadrupled since the 2009 floods yet I am safer now with the flood defences, so it should come down.

“Companies have already started to refuse people and that affects the housing market.”

Christine Ryan, who owns the Honest Lawyer with husband Quentin, which flooded in 2009, said: “I don’t have any flood insurance because I was refused. If we flooded seriously again we would have to close down.”

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham said: “I have raised the issue in Parliament that the statement of principles needs replacing. Even though this doesn’t happen until 2013, people are taking out insurance now.

“The people I represent want three things. One is that they can get insurance, secondly it is insurance that they can afford, and thirdly an insurance policy with an excess that doesn’t make it worthless.”

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said that discussions about the statement of principles were taking place with the Government on a new solution.

He added: “However, we won’t insure people against floods if the statement of principles expires.”

First published at 19:20, Thursday, 19 July 2012
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