When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
New flood insurance plans could hit small businesses
SMALL businesses in Oxfordshire could be left high and dry thanks to new Government plans on flood insurance.
Proposals for cheaper cover drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs could see tradespeople excluded, forcing them to pay higher premiums or struggle to find cover at all.
Sam Green, 25, who runs Oxford Furniture Warehouse with her mother Chris, moved their shop across Oxford from Abingdon Road to London Road in Headington in April because of flooding at their former base.
Two of their storage buildings were flooded in November and again the following month, costing them £6,000 in lost trade.
Ms Green said: “We are all right now we have moved and have been able to get a good deal on insurance. But in Abingdon Road it was practically impossible to find anyone to insure you and any insurance we got wouldn’t cover flooding, so we couldn’t claim anything at all.
“There needs to be help for traders from the Government.”
Up until now, small businesses have been included under what is known as the Statement of Principles, an agreement between the insurance industry and the Government.
The Statement expired in June and the Association of British Insurers has extended it temporarily, until a new deal can be put in place.
Martin Shirley, who runs the Lakeside Guest House, also in Abingdon Road, said that although he had never been flooded, getting insurance cover was “virtually impossible” because the road had been under water several times in recent years.
He added: “When you ring brokers, they ask how close to the river you are and when we say about 100 yards, they say ‘forget it’.
“We are penalised because of where we live. We have had a policy for years which has carried on but if we wanted to take out a new one, we wouldn’t be able to.”
It is estimated that more than 5,000 homes and business are at risk of flooding in Oxfordshire.
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association believes not including small businesses under the new agreement is a mistake.
BIBA head of technical services Steve Foulsham said: “If these proposals go through in their present form, small businesses will be excluded from the new flood agreement.
“That is a big mistake because small businesses are no different from domestic households.”
Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “This Government is committed to finding a sustainable approach that balances the needs of high-risk households, wider policyholders and the taxpayer.
“We want to protect wider bill payers and the taxpayer, creating the conditions for a fair and gradual transition towards more risk-reflective pricing in time.”
The results of the consultation will be revealed later this year.
Comments are closed on this article.