REPRESENTATIVES of Skibbereen Floods Committee protested outside Dáil Éireann in Dublin on Tuesday over the failure of insurance companies to provide adequate cover for people in flood-affected areas.
Although he welcomed a current €18m investment in Skibbereen’s flood relief works, Flood Committee secretary Cathal O’Donovan said: ‘There is no guarantee that when the works are complete that home and business owners will be able to get insurance cover.’
The protest – which included 24 representatives from Skibbereen and three from Bandon – coincided with a second reading of the Flood Insurance Bill in the Dáil, which seeks to legislate against discrimination by insurance companies. Mr O’Donovan welcomed the fact that the West Cork representatives were given an opportunity to meet with government representatives and were able to witness the proceedings from the Dáil gallery.
He told The Southern Star: ‘We are pleased that the Bill was passed and that it will now go before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the ECB, before going to the Seanad and the President.’
Cork South West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said the Bill would make it illegal for insurance companies to refuse cover for premises that have a standard one in a 100-year flood risk, as certified by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
She said: ‘The OPW has already completed 37 major flood defence schemes across the country. However, some insurance customers are still being refused cover – a situation that is completely unacceptable.’
Under the new legislation, a property owner would be entitled to complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman if they were unreasonably refused insurance or were offered an unreasonable premium.
According to Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, ‘This Bill will protect home and business owners in areas of low risk, or areas where the State has made a substantial investment in flood defences and ensure that they are covered by insurance companies.’