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Newmarket Bill Rickaby Drive resident's anger over hike in home insurance costs due to flood fears



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People who live near flood risk areas are being faced with significant price increases when attempting to buy home insurance, as one Newmarket resident recently discovered.

Catriona Pilborough, who lives in Bill Rickaby Drive, had previously purchased insurance, which included flood damage cover for £173 per year, but when she tried to renew the insurance this year, she was quoted £430 for full cover, or £169 for cover excluding flooding.

She said: “I’ve lived here for 31 years and never made a single claim on my insurance or been flooded. Some years ago, the main drain near the Yellow Brick Road flooded, but it didn’t get close to my house. Now, I’m being penalised for that flood.

Catriona Pillborough has seen her home insurance quotes treble due to apparently being in a flood risk area, despite having never been flooded in 31 years of living there. Picture by Mark Westley
Catriona Pillborough has seen her home insurance quotes treble due to apparently being in a flood risk area, despite having never been flooded in 31 years of living there. Picture by Mark Westley

“When I tried to renew, I was shown an online map which highlighted all the flood risk areas, and there is one running all the way through the middle of Newmarket from the underground drain, so this will affect a lot of people in the town.

“I’m writing a letter to Matt Hancock as this really needs to be fixed by the council. My house is just on the very edge of the flood area on the map, and I have neighbours a few doors away whose insurance quotes haven’t changed at all.”

The responsibility for maintaining the water course along Yellow Brick Road is shared between Anglian Water, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council.

Catriona Pillborough says her previous insurance cost her £173 per year, but she's now been quoted £430 for full cover for a renewal. Picture by Mark Westley
Catriona Pillborough says her previous insurance cost her £173 per year, but she's now been quoted £430 for full cover for a renewal. Picture by Mark Westley

Litter-picking and obstruction removal from the water course has been scheduled by West Suffolk Council for later this month.

Anglian Water and Suffolk County Council have been approached for comment.

C&P Insurance Services Ltd, the Newmarket insurance broker which was helping Catriona to search for quotes, explained that there has been a nationwide shift in insurer’s attitudes towards flood cover policies due to a 9,000 per cent increase in flood claims across the UK last year.

A spokesman for the brokerage firm said: “Flooding is definitely an issue with home insurance currently.

"To highlight the issues we face, I just received the following from an insurer today: ‘As part of our revised flood strategy, and in order to reduce our exposure to property located in an area with a high risk of flooding or property within close proximity to a higher risk of flooding, we have tightened our acceptance criteria.

"For some risks this will mean increased rating and excess levels and for others it means that we are no longer able to renew the policy’.”

Flood claims in the UK, which totalled £350 million last year, were in part due to storms Dennis and Ciara.

The government currently runs a scheme called Flood Re in conjunction with insurers to make flood cover more affordable: www.floodre.co.uk.

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