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Flood claims 'triple over decade'

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The number of flood claims has tripled in the past decade, driven by a rise in cases of severe weather and growing surface water risks, a home insurance trade association has said.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that a total of £4.5 billion has been given to flood-hit homes or businesses as payouts since 2000 - a rise of 200% on the previous decade's figure of £1.5 billion.

According to the trade body, a rise in the frequency and severity of flooding in the UK and growing surface water problems are the reasons behind the hike in flood claims.

The main contributors to the payout rise include the 2007 summer flooding, which cost the insurance industry £3 billion, along with the 2005 Carlisle floods and last year's Cumbrian deluge, which cost £272 million and £174 million respectively.

The Environment Agency said that nearly 5.2 million homes in England are currently at risk of flooding, with 2.8 million facing the threat due to surface water.

The ABI warned that while almost 500,000 people face a significant flood risk, the figure could rise to 840,000 by 2035 if adequate measures for flood defences are not carried out.

Overall, it is estimated that the total value of assets under flood risk is more than £200 billion.

The group is urging the Government to ensure that spending on flood defences is targeted at the most vulnerable communities.

© Press Association 2010