House sales warning over flood risk

FloodingA lack of affordable flood insurance in the coming months could trigger a further slowdown in the housing market, lenders have warned.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has pressed the Government for "urgent talks" about a new safety net agreement to ensure householders at a higher flooding risk can continue to take out insurance at a reasonable cost.
The CML has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) amid fears about the future availability and cost of the insurance, following the wettest April on record.

It is concerned that existing arrangements, under which most households at risk of flooding have been able to get cover, are set to end in June next year.

Uncertainty about future insurance could begin to affect people trying to renew policies from this summer, as households tend to take out policies annually, said the CML.

It warned this could cause further problems for the sluggish housing market, as borrowers unable to get cover risk breaching the terms of their mortgage and may find they cannot get another deal. Meanwhile, prospective buyers of higher flood-risk homes may also be unable to raise the finance they need.

Around 200,000 homes at risk from flooding may face difficulties getting insurance from next year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned in January. The ABI has also spoken of its "frustration" and has said that insurers want to ensure every home has access to affordable insurance.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: "Taxpayers' money is best spent on long-term solutions that prevent flooding in the first place. We are investing £2.1 billion in flood defences that will protect over 145,000 homes.

"We want flood insurance to be affordable and remain widely available and are working with the insurance industry to ensure that this will be the case

"We're mindful of those on lower incomes living with the risk of flooding. That's why we're considering ways to keep flood insurance affordable for those who might struggle most with premium increases."

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