Insurance companies say 'no' to flood risk homes  Windsor Express Jul 20 2007

By Joe Clapson Windsor Reporter

RISK of flooding has caused insurance companies to turn their back on Royal Borough houses, according to homeowners.  A resident from Ouseley Road, Wraysbury, who wishes to remain anonymous, has spoken out after being refused insurance by more than ten companies.

Floods in 2003 left houses and possessions in Wraysbury, Old Windsor and Datchet in ruins and left the area underwater for days. It was the most significant flood since 1947.  The resident, who lives 100 metres from the River Thames and has never made a claim on his home insurance in 30 years, said: "After 2003 my home insurance premium just kept going up in big jumps each year. First it increased by 15%, then 17%, then 18% - so in a matter of a few years my policy had nearly doubled.  "I decided to look around to find a better deal, but when I did I was shocked at what I found.  "I rang all the insurance companies I could find and they wouldn't touch me because of where I lived. As soon as I told them my postcode, that was it - they said they don't insure houses in that area because of the flood risk."

Other residents of Wraysbury, Datchet, and Old Windsor have attempted to get quotes for home insurance on the internet. But as soon as they enter their postcode they are told insurance cannot be offered because they live in area liable to flooding.  Our source added: "Prior to the 2003 flooding I could have got insurance from any company.  "I have insurance at the moment but I am going to have to review it because of the clause relating to flood damage. In the small print it states that insurance 'does not cover floods caused by a rising water table'."

There is now concern that as soon as homeowners need a new insurance policy they will not be able get one.  Our source said: "Those with old policies might be okay because companies should honour their contract. But I am positive that such policies will be phased out and the whole of Wraysbury and Datchet will be uninsurable in a few years."

Colin Rayner, councillor and cabinet member for Wraysbury and Horton, said: "I find this situation most distressing for homeowners to be faced with. But there are insurance companies that will insure their homes. The insurers rely on maps provided by the EA and these maps have been found in the past to include properties which have never been flooded.  The EA have mapped some areas with incorrect data, which means some houses are seen as a risk when there is no history of floods."

But the EA have rejected the idea that it is to blame for the situation.  Tim Abbott, a spokesman for the EA, said: "Insurance premiums and excesses are solely a matter for insurers. Insurance companies are required to treat our flood maps as a first step in deciding the actual risk but this is supplemented with their own information and other relevant data, including information from the homeowner, before deciding whether to offer insurance."

It is thought that many villagers are oblivious to the fact that they will not be insured if their homes are flooded.  Our source said: "There will be people in the floodplain who think they have flood insurance but actually don't, due to 'get out clauses' with different definitions of what a flood is. People think they are insured but the devil is in the detail. "After hours of searching and numerous telephone calls I have not yet found an insurance company that properly covers the houses in this area."