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UK insurers seek more information on flood defences

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) Britain's insurers, facing a bill of around 1.5 billion pounds (3 billion dollars) after June's floods, want more information on the state of flood defences to help them continue to cover their customers, an industry body said.

Britain's wettest June on record resulted in widespread floods across central and northern England, where thousands of flood victims are still clearing up.

The Association of British Insurers, which represents the insurance industry, said today it would meet the Environment Agency as soon as possible to discuss the availability of new flood defence information, but gave no specific timing.

It said its members -- who still offer flood cover in most standard policies -- remained committed to insuring their customers, if the government invests in flood defences.

''The recent floods have not altered that commitment and we were delighted that the government recently announced a higher level of investment in flood defences,'' a spokesman said.

''We will be meeting soon with the Environment Agency to discuss all the information they hold on flood defences and how it can best be shared with insurers.'' The state of Britain's defences to protect some 2 million homes and businesses from flooding has come under the spotlight this year, after a report found they were inadequate in the face of more frequent storms and rising sea levels.

Already hit by winter storm Kyrill, Britain's insurers have raised concerns that inadequate information on the state of the defences -- for example, where they are in worse condition than previously thought -- could mean companies are left with higher-than-expected exposures.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said last week the government would increase flood defence spending from 600 million this year to 800 million pounds a year in 2010/11.

REUTERS SBC BST2245

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