I am conscious of the difficulties that the absence or withdrawal of flood insurance cover can cause to homeowners and businesses. However, you should be aware that the provision of insurance is a commercial matter for insurance companies, which is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. Consequently, neither I nor the Central Bank can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance (Solvency II Directive).
With respect to the issue highlighted in the question, I would first of all recommend that the individual in question ought to contact Insurance Ireland which operates a free Insurance information service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to obtaining insurance cover including flood insurance, at email@example.com. In addition, the person has the right to make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman in relation to any dealings with a financial services or insurance provider during which they feel they have been unfairly treated.
Current government policy in relation to increasing flood insurance coverage is focused on the development of a sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to managing flooding problems. To achieve this aim there is a focus on:
- Investing almost €1 billion to flood relief measures over the lifetime of the National Development Plan 2018-2027;
- Implementation of flood relief management plans by the Office of Public Works (OPW), and;
- Maintaining channels of communication between the OPW and the insurance industry, in order to reach a better understanding about the provision of flood cover in affected areas.
The above approach is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and industry representatives Insurance Ireland, who meet on a quarterly basis to help implement this initiative. This provides for the exchange of data in relation to completed flood defence schemes which should in turn provide a basis for the increased provision of flood insurance in these areas.
I acknowledge that while there has been an overall increase in the provision of flood insurance between 2015 and 2020, some householders are still experiencing difficulties. This is particularly the case for households in areas with demountable flood defences.
My Department is reviewing the challenges of property insurance and flooding as part of the action points for my Department under the Climate Action Plan. This work is in progress and my Department will continue to provide updates on this to the Climate Action Board.
Finally, the Deputy should be assured that Minister of State Fleming and I will continue to proactively engage on all aspects of insurance reform including flood insurance issues.