The Deputy will acknowledge the Office of Public Works, OPW, has no responsibility for oversight or regulation of the insurance industry in relation to flood risk insurance, or to insurance matters generally. The Government’s strategy is that in return for its investment in flood defence schemes in the most at-risk communities, households and businesses should be able to access flood insurance. The OPW has a very specific role in the exchange of information with the insurance industry regarding completed flood defence schemes. That is to an agreed standard of protection desired by the industry.
On 24 March 2014, the OPW agreed a memorandum of understanding with Insurance Ireland, which is the representative body for insurance companies in Ireland. This memorandum of understanding has a specific focus on agreeing a basis on which information can be provided to the insurance industry on flood relief schemes completed by the OPW. The Department of Finance and the OPW meet with Insurance Ireland on a quarterly basis to discuss issues in respect of this transfer of data. To date, OPW has provided details to Insurance Ireland on 18 completed schemes nationally. Insurance Ireland surveys its members to ascertain the extent to which flood insurance cover is available in these areas.
Insurance Ireland has informed me that the most recent survey, in March this year, indicates that 95% of policies in areas benefitting from permanent flood defences include flood cover while 74% of policies in areas benefitting from demountable defences include flood cover. Taken together, 84% of policies in areas benefitting from flood defence schemes include flood cover. The insurance sector has acknowledged that demountable defences are designed and when properly erected meet the desired standard.
The OPW has given Insurance Ireland detailed information it sought to explain the protocols and procedures in place to maintain, test, and erect demountable defences. Discussions are continuing with the Department of Finance to explore options to address the industry’s concerns about the human element of demountable defences.