Fianna Fáil has today published legislation which would require insurance companies to provide insurance cover for flooding to households and businesses in areas where the OPW has completed flood relief schemes or where the risk of flooding is at an acceptably low standard.
The party’s Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath, commented, “The issue of insurance cover for potential flood events has to be tackled in a number of ways. The Flood Insurance Bill 2016, which I am publishing today, follows extensive consultation with the Irish National Flood Forum and seeks to tackle a key aspect of this issue. The Bill is borne of a frustration that many businesses and households in areas where flood schemes have been completed, and proven to be effective, still cannot access flood insurance.
“In essence, the Bill provides that where the OPW has completed a flood relief scheme to the required European standard (resulting in the flood risk being reduced to a 1 in a 100 year event) or where the flooding risk has been deemed to be extremely low by the OPW, an insurance company must offer flood insurance at a price that can be reasonably justified by the current risk profile associated with a property. The Bill sets out the respective roles of the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Central Bank to ensure the purposes of the Bill are implemented.
“Given that the OPW plans to spend hundreds of millions of euro in the coming years on flood defences, it is essential that the insurance industry is required to respond accordingly and to extend flood cover to these areas once the schemes have been completed. That has not been the experience to date in towns such as Fermoy, Mallow and Clonmel, where flood defences have been successfully completed. The absence of flood insurance is not only a major worry for homeowners and the owners of businesses; it also acts as a brake on the economic potential of a town and will is a deterrent to any investor.
“Fianna Fáil also recognises the need to address the lack of insurance in areas that remain prone to flooding. We recognise that this will require State intervention in some form and we are currently examining a number of models, including the Flood Re scheme in the UK, and will publish proposals to deal with this issue also.
“I look forward to moving the Flood Insurance Bill 2016 in the Dáil next week. It is a genuine attempt to address a vitally important issue in communities across the country. The provisions of the Bill are not just important for communities where flood relief schemes have been completed but are relevant for those areas where schemes will be carried out in the coming years as it provides a pathway to flood insurance cover being reinstated for them. In advance of his meeting with insurers next week, the Taoiseach would be well advised to signal he is prepared to move in the direction of this Bill.”