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Flood Risk Insurance Cover

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Questions\Written Answers\Flood Risk Insurance Cover

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Flood Risk Insurance Cover

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Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)

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Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)

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Michael Noonan

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Snippet Contents:

I am aware of the difficulties that the absence of flood insurance cover can cause to householders and businesses. However, the provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter for insurance companies and is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept and adequate provisioning to meet those risks. In my role as Minister for Finance, I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation.  Neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products or have the power to direct insurance companies to provide flood cover to specific individuals.
Government policy in relation to flooding is focused on the development of a sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to dealing with flooding problems, with a view to addressing the increased availability of flood insurance. To achieve this aim, there is a focus on prioritising spending on flood relief measures, development and implementation of plans by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to implement flood relief schemes. This strategy is complemented by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland which provides for the transfer by the OPW of data in relation to completed flood defence schemes to the insurance industry, which should provide a basis for the increased provision of flood insurance in areas where works have been completed. 
The OPW has advised me that Durrus in Co. Cork is an Area of Further Assessment (AFA) under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management project, and has therefore been the subject of detailed assessment and modelling, leading to the production of draft flood maps. These draft maps were the subject of local Public Consultation Days throughout the country and a statutory public consultation process which concluded on 23rd December 2015. It has clearly been stated that the draft flood maps were published for consultation purposes only and use of the maps for any other purposes is not permitted.  Specifically, Insurance Ireland has been informed that these maps cannot be relied upon to inform insurance premiums, policies or excesses. All comments/responses received during the public consultation process will be considered before the flood maps are finalised. The OPW has further advised me that for Sruth Mhuileann, the draft maps indicate that part of this development is an area of low flood probability, i.e. a 0.1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) or a 1,000 year return period, while the remainder of the development is not a flood risk. The preferred design standard that flood risk options are to address is typically the 1% AEP or 100 year return period, and flood risk management options are not designed to manage more extreme flood risks than this.
The current flooding crisis has raised issues in relation to insurance and flooding. The Taoiseach and some other of my colleagues in Government met the insurance industry on Tuesday 12th January 2016 to discuss the industry's role in providing flood insurance and to obtain the industry's views on flood insurance issues such as those outlined in the correspondence supplied by the Deputy. The Taoiseach has asked the insurance industry to revert back within two weeks following further consideration of their approach to the provision of insurance in areas where demountable defences are in place, along with details on the availability of insurance in areas with flood defences.
In addition, my officials are undertaking detailed research on alternative options with the potential to ensure greater availability of flood insurance. This will be in the form of a comparative analysis of the different approaches to flood insurance in other countries.