Fears over flood plain insurance

WARNINGS had been given, and today it was revealed that insurance companies ARE refusing to cover homes on Felixstowe's flood plain. It means that it is unlikely that any of the 188 new homes to be built on the south seafront will be able to get insurance, putting a huge question mark over who would buy them and the viability of the project.

By Richard Cornwell

WARNINGS had been given, and today it was revealed that insurance companies ARE refusing to cover homes on Felixstowe's flood plain.

It means that it is unlikely that any of the 188 new homes to be built on the south seafront will be able to get insurance, putting a huge question mark over who would buy them and the viability of the project.

Edwina and Bob Rust discovered the awful truth that it may be impossible to insure their home against damage caused by a breach in the sea defences when they approached Norwich Union Direct.

As soon as the Norfolk-based company, one of Britain's biggest insurers, discovered that the Rusts' home in Manor Terrace was in a flood zone, it declined to insure the couple.

"We have lived here about four years but not had buildings insurance before and I was prompted to inquire after receiving another leaflet about insurance," said Mrs Rust.

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"They asked me a whole series of questions and then asked whether I lived on a flood plain and asked me to check with the Environment Agency.

"I knew it was a flood plain and the agency confirmed this. I went back to Norwich Union Direct and gave them my postcode and they said they could not give me any cover because of the flood risk."

Mrs Rust was not only shocked by the insurance refusal, but the Environment Agency's statement that the south seafront area was liable to flooding one in every 100 years – not one in 200 as stated by Suffolk Coastal council.

"I cannot understand how the council can propose to build nearly 200 homes on the land between our home and the sea when these properties will not be insured," she said.

"No-one knows when the next flood will come. It could be tomorrow, it could be 400 years. I think the council must have Michael Fish as an advisor.

"The waves regularly come over the sea wall in winter and building on that land will also take away our soakaway – and put our homes even more at risk."

Norwich Union spokesman David Ross said the company, in line with many others, had taken the decision not to accept new customers living in flood zones.

"The Environment Agency provides details of those postcode areas that are at risk from flood," he said.

"Norwich Union, in common with other insurance companies, has taken that information on board when approached by new customers and on the basis of the evidence that these properties are at risk from flooding has decided to decline to give cover."

Existing customers would continue to be covered, he added.

Suffolk Coastal is working in partnership with Bloor Homes to develop the 17-acre south seafront with 188 homes and some small-scale leisure facilities, including a wooden galleon, play areas, gardens and a beach café.

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