In March 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Insurance Ireland (II), the representative body for the insurance industry in Ireland, and the Office of Public Works (OPW). This Memorandum sets out principles of how the two organisations will work together to ensure that appropriate and relevant information on completed OPW flood defence schemes is provided to insurers to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the availability to the public of insurance against the risk of flooding. II members have committed to take into account all information provided by OPW when assessing exposure to flood risk within these areas.
The Memorandum came into effect on 1 June, 2014 with an initial tranche of data provided by the OPW to II in respect of 12 completed flood defence schemes and showing the design, extent and nature of the protection offered by these works. A further tranche of data was provided to II in January 2015 covering a further 4 completed flood defence schemes. OPW will continue to provide data to II as flood defence schemes are completed.
II estimates that flood cover is included as standard in 98% of household insurance policies throughout the country. II has carried out a number of surveys among its members to ascertain the extent to which flood insurance cover is available in the areas for which OPW has provided data on completed flood defence schemes. The results of the most recent survey were provided in December last year; they indicate that 83% of property insurance policies in these areas include cover against flood risk. Where the defences are permanent in nature the percentage is 90%; where demountable defences are used the percentage is 77%.
In line with Action No. 270 of the Action Plan for Rural Development, the OPW and the Department of Finance are now engaging with II on a quarterly basis. At the most recent meeting on 8 December 2016, it was decided that a sub group be established to explore the legal, technical and administrative arrangements that may allow for the further sharing of data on flood insurance cover for those 300 areas where the OPW has mapped the flood risk through the CFRAM Programme. This sub group held its first meeting on 18 January last.
I am happy with the work of the Group thus far and am confident that it will continue to progress the issue of flood insurance.