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News from the

NFF Conference, 7th March 2012

Over 190 delegates attended the conference, from England, Scotland and Wales. Community groups mixed with insurance executives and brokers, EA delegates with university professors, flood product suppliers with councillors, MPs and the Minister for flooding, Richard Benyon.

The conference was divided into three sessions: Community perspectives: Views from some of the key institutions: What the politicians have to say. In between were workshop sessions on Property level protection, Community Flood Group insurance, A fair Insurance Industry, Local FRM strategies, the value of Flood groups, Insurance models and Partnership funding!

Social Justice in Insurance – the Joseph Rowntree Foundation view

John and Martin O’Neill from JRF launched their Viewpoint document on “Social Justice and the Future of Flood Insurance” at the Conference. This examined two approaches to insurance ‘individualistic, risk-sensitive’ insurance and ‘solidaristic, risk- insensitive’ insurance. They looked at different concepts of fairness in setting Insurance costs – ‘pure actuarial fairness’, ‘choice sensitive fairness’ and ‘fairness as social justice’. They concluded that ‘pure actuarial fairness’ – where insurance costs directly reflect risk levels - does not provide a compelling approach for flood insurance.

 This is the competitive free-market model which seems to be strongly favoured by government.

JRF argued that “fairness as social justice” required a more solidaristic flood insurance regime , stating that “the purely market based alternative threatens to leave many thousands of properties uninsurable, leading to extensive social blight”. They concluded “If the UK flood insurance regime moves further towards a free market, it will be at the expense of fairness and social justice.”

Views from the Communities

We were fortunate to have four community representatives speaking at the Conference.

Heather Shepherd of NFF talked about listening to communities, particularly on issues such as building in the flood plain. Her message on insurance was that it must be affordable and available, so that lenders would give mortgages and homes would stay sellable. On the new partnership funding, Heather warned that rural communities could lose out in the battle for funds.

Phiala Mehring of Loddon Valley Residents – which she described as a pre-emptive flood group, set up and working to prevent flooding. She outlined the importance of working in partnership. LVRA meets every 10 weeks with council, water company and others as the Wokingham Flood Partnership, to get things done. She reported that Insurance premiums of £2000 – 5000 were now common in their area, leading to a threat of “Insurance Poverty” like fuel poverty.

Philip Wright (Scottish Flood Forum) told how the SFF had been set up in 2008 with Paul Hendy seconded from the NFF and funding from the Scottish Government. The SFF would become an independent charity this year, but retaining strong links to the NFF. He outlined

some of the differences in legislation and practice between Scotland and England and described how they were carrying out a study to see how community-inspired action to mitigate flood risk could reduce the cost of flooding to Scotland.

Michael Sol Owen (Pwllheli Flood Project) described how the town had produced the Pwllheli Pilot Flood Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. His role as Community Flooding Ambassador had been to forge an informal link between the authorities

NFF puts consensus views to Defra and HM Treasury ....

The full conference report can be found on the NFF website:

Paul Cobbing and Charles Tucker attended a stakeholder forum with Defra/HMT on 23rd March, to hear an update on government work on flood insurance. The meeting reinforced the view that government plans to do very little to shape the market for flood insurance, seeing their role mainly as smoothing the transition to a free market. We believe that this will allow prices to rocket, lead to injustice on a growing scale and produce future blight, so Charles presented a note to the meeting representing the consensus view of the NFF, Morpeth and Joseph Rowntree. It was also endorsed at the meeting by Matt Cullen of ABI. This called for government to adopt the Morpeth/Oxera model, funded by a contribution from all household policy holders.

 With all the warnings about social injustice and future blight arising from a free market, we firmly believe that Government must find a way to adopt this, or a similar, model. The consensus note is printed on page 5. Government will announce its decision “in the Spring”.

... while working together Paul Cobbing is working closely with Defra and the Treasury on proposals to help reduce insurance problems, such as a dedicated insurance phone-line, run by the NFF. We’re proposing to work on community pilots to test out new ideas for flood risk management; and finding ways to ensure that those on the lowest incomes have access to affordable insurance.

PLP and insurance

Defra has given the National Flood Forum a grant to investigate the extent to which Property Level Protection of homes makes it easier to get household insurance or to get lower premiums or reduced excesses. We will be undertaking a survey and following that up with some more in depth interviews – more details in the next bulletin or see our website for more details in the next week.  If you have had property level protection fitted you can really help this work. We would love to hear from you. Please contact Chris Wright on 01743 741725 or

Working with the EA

The Environment Agency has provided a grant for the NFF to research the financial value of the market in Property Level Protection measures, looking at scale of demand and projected growth in supply.

Contact Paul Cobbing for more information

Heather Shepherd (NFF) and Phiala Mehring (Loddon Valley RA) at the NFF Conference

Want to protect your home or small business from flooding? Ask the NFF!

Phone Amanda on 01299 403055 or Heather on 01743 741725. 11

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