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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 19 July, 2019
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Crisis continues: Homeowners refused flood insurance or quoted unrealistic prices

Government and insurance firm representatives met this afternoon.

A flooded area of Athlone earlier this month
A flooded area of Athlone earlier this month
Image: RollingNews.ie/Department of Defence

Updated 5.30pm

REPRESENTATIVES FROM INSURANCE firms across Ireland have held brief talks with government about the provision of cover for those affected by flooding.

Tánaiste Joan Burton described the discussions as “robust”, adding that there will be a further meeting held in a fortnight.

The meeting was attended by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste, Minister Simon Coveney, Minister Alan Kelly and Minister of State Simon Harris.

At the meeting, the Taoiseach asked the industry to:

  • Reflect on the current level of insurance being provided in areas where flood protection works have taken place
  • Examine their current approach to removable flood defences as they relate to insurance cover.

A statement after the meeting said that the industry agreed to respond to the Government by the end of the week on both of the above.

Speaking afterwards, the Taoiseach said:

I have seen at first-hand how the people who have been affected by the severe weather of recent times are absolutely traumatised and exhausted by the experience. They have shown incredible resilience and community spirit, and the voluntary effort around the country, as well as the work of local authorities, emergency services, the civil defence and many more has been outstanding.

He said that today’s meeting was a constructive one, “with all parties acknowledging the exceptional nature of recent events and the considerable distress for victims of flooding, and agreeing to work together to find the best ways to provide maximum insurance cover.”

The Tánaiste said that the meeting was “very productive and involved a frank and robust exchange of views”. She said that there is now a framework for a continuing engagement with the insurance industry in order to address the various issues and problem areas.

The challenges of the industry were also acknowledged at the meeting.

Flood defences

Representatives from Insurance Ireland, the professional body that oversees the sector, earlier said that it is the responsibility of the government to build effective flood defences.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Labour TD and chair of the Environment Committee on flooding, Michael McCarthy, has said that even in areas where work has been carried out individuals are still unable to obtain insurance.

“In areas where they have been completed and in areas where remediation work has taken place, there is evidence that people can’t get flood insurance or they’re being quoted prices that are making it too difficult to get cover,” he said.

Today’s meeting is understood to have lasted around half an hour and is the first of many that will result in a report on flooding being given to the government in the spring.

New warning

Meanwhile, the ESB has warned customers to be extra vigilant as flood waters begin to recede.

Members of the public are being told to take care when moving around flooded areas in boats and other flotation devices due to the possibility of electrocution.

While electricity wires normally sit at a height well above water level, the recent flooding means that the clearance levels of wires may have been compromised.

All sagging wires or wires submerged in water should be avoided, and no one should attempt to steer a boat anywhere near these.

It is advised that flooding near land, roadways, rivers and streams creates particular dangers, as the public is much closer to the wires than they would ordinarily be.

Where electrical installations are at risk due to flooding, electricity supply should be turned off at the isolator fuse box.

Speaking about the new danger, Arthur Byrne, safety manager with ESB networks, said:

As the floods recede, it is important to remain vigilant because previously unseen dangers may now be more immediate. Before your electrical installation is reconnected, have it checked out by a registered electrical contractor. 
Read: One way to help stop floods? Don’t let developers build on flood plains

Also: There could be some further spot flooding tonight

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