FLOOD-STRICKEN villagers fear they will have to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds if an affordable insurance scheme is pulled.
Residents living in the unprotected riverside villages of Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury, as well as Old Windsor have the next major flooding event constantly on their minds.
That’s been exacerbated since news channel one of the River Thames Scheme, which would have protected the villages from flooding, won’t be going ahead.
But there’s another thing that the villagers will have to think about – flood insurance.
After the major country-wide 2014 flood event, which saw Datchet and Wraysbury become the epicentre of media and political attention, the government and insurers set up a scheme in 2016 called ‘Flood Re’ to enable over 85 insurance companies to provide flood insurance at an affordable rate.
According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Flood Re has covered over 256,000 household policies in 2021/22 and more than 450,000 properties have benefitted since its launch.
Before the scheme came along, householders who had made prior flood claims could not get quotes from five or more insurers.
However, Flood Re will only last until 2039, and many villagers fear they will have to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds to stay insured. Some say they can’t afford that, leaving their homes unsellable or unable to be mortgaged.
This is another reason why the villagers are stressing the return of channel one, which the Royal Borough Council deemed unaffordable, so that a working and fully functional flood defence will mitigate the risk for residents.
The effect of a lack of flood defences is already affecting peoples’ insurance, some villagers have claimed.
Wraysbury flood warden Dave Francis, who attended the bronze and gold meetings with then Prime Minister David Cameron during the 2014 flood event, said his insurance has been revoked.
It was £720 but spiked to a staggering £5,600. He blames the removal of channel one for this.
“I think I’m one of the only ones affected by this and I am sure it will be a knock-on effect,” he said.
Datchet Parish Council chairman David Buckley said a resident was quoted to pay £250,000 in excess before an insurance company pays out if his property flooded.
He added: “Once this [Flood Re] finishes, there is concern the government won’t renew Flood Re because of climate change and coastal erosion due to finances.
“It means areas like us won’t be insurable, meaning they won’t get mortgaged and won’t sell their property.
“People find it very hard to get insurance, but they have this security that they can get insurance at an affordable rate while this Flood Re is in place.”
But a Flood Re spokesperson said: “Our purpose is to create a more resilient market within 25 years of our creation and leave behind a long-lasting legacy that will positively impact future generations beyond our 2039 exit date. It is important that our legacy leaves not only a resilient market but also a resilient nation of homes.
“However, success will be a collective effort, requiring positive action from the public, insurers, developers, and government. We at Flood Re, motivated by the reality of our 2039 deadline, will not cease in our commitment to ensure that the UK, despite the increase in extreme weather events, is always able to manage its present and future flood risk.”
DEFRA said it, in partnership with the council and the Environment Agency, is working on a new flood defence scheme that will protect properties between Datchet and Hythe End.
But as the project is in its early stages, details surrounding it are currently unknown.
DEFRA have urged resident to sign-up for its flood warning service via gov.uk/flood or Floodline on 0345 988 1188