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08:00 - 29 August 2007

Flooded or not, thousands of homeowners have been left in a no-win situation after insurance companies turned their back on the region.

Following the June 25 floods, insurance companies have blacklisted properties across Hull and the East Riding deemed high risk.

Under an agreement the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has with the Government, insurance companies will continue to offer renewal of buildings and contents insurance to existing customers.

But the Mail has discovered they are not taking on new customers. A number of insured residents living in the HU postcode area have found their premiums have gone up, some doubling.

However, after shopping around for quotes they found they are now forced to stay with their existing provider, absorbing the hike in premium cost, because no other company will insure them.

And those who did not have insurance at the time of the floods are left in limbo, unable to get any cover.

Today the Mail launches the Play Fair campaign to pressurise insurers into providing cover. We are calling on people to write to the country's major insurers and voice their disgust at the decision to blacklist properties.

Leigh Hemsworth, 34, of Knightly Way, Kingswood, was flooded and insured and has seen her premiums rise already, despite her renewal not being due until April. Mrs Hemsworth paid 30.25 per month for her contents and building insurance with Paymentshield, but that has now risen to 34.76.

Insurance companies can alter premiums after customers sign a contract because the small print states that rates are subject to change if events such as flooding occur. She has been told it will go up again in October before her premium will be renewed in April.

Mrs Hemsworth said: "The monthly payments have already gone up. They can't tell me how much my premium will be if I renew with them in April, but I'm beginning to think they are taking it up gradually before they hit me with a huge rise in April.

"I'm annoyed I might only be able to get insurance with them. Because I don't have any other options they can charge me through the nose for it. I have to take what they offer as I can't insure with anyone else."

It's not just flood victims who are losing out. Many of those who were not hit by the floods have also been categorised as living in a "high risk" area.

The Mail has discovered they stand more chance of getting cover, but residents are also seeing their premiums rocket.

Kerry and Dean Carmichael, of Grasby Close, off Holderness Road in east Hull, were not flooded and do not live in a flood-hit area, but their cover has risen 110 per cent.

The couple were informed by insurers Paymentshield their monthly payments would rise from 29 to 61, because their area is now classed as high risk.

Mrs Carmichael said: "I suppose on one hand we are lucky because we are able to get cover. But on the other, we were not even flooded.

"We live off Holderness Road. The nearest areas flooded to us were Woodford area and Bilton.

"We have been with our insurance company for four years and every year the quote has more or less stayed the same.

"Then this year, we got a letter to say we are in a high risk area and so the premium had to go up.

"We have started to look for other quotes. Our area was not flooded so we hopefully won't find it too hard, although our postcode is obviously affected because our renewal policy went up."

Those who were flooded and did not have insurance can't get cover at all. Nick Drewery, 38, of Beech Close, Burstwick, lost everything when flood water swamped his uninsured home.

He said: "I had an argument with my insurance company a few weeks before the floods, over a different claim and foolishly told them I didn't want to be insured with them anymore.

"Now I can't get insurance with anyone because no company will touch new customers in flood-hit areas.

"A friend is an insurance broker with plenty of contacts and he just came back and said no one will touch it."


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