Date lodged: 9 September 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what steps it has taken to ensure that SEPA flood map data is not being used inappropriately by insurers to assess flood risk for insurance purposes.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 20 September 2016
SEPA's Flood Maps do not show flood risk to individual properties, instead they identify areas which, as a whole, are at risk of flooding and its impacts. Insurance companies have their own flood maps on which to base their decisions, and SEPA’s Flood Maps should have no influence on insurance premiums. SEPA's terms and conditions have to be accepted before anyone can access the Flood Maps online which make it perfectly clear that the Maps must not be used for commercial purposes, or to set insurance premiums. SEPA is working with the Association of British Insurers, to help to increase understanding across the industry of the purpose of the flood maps (i.e. for community level decision making) and stress that they are not suitable for property level assessments.
SEPA has also taken action to inform insurance companies that work across the UK of the differences that exist between England and Scotland in the data available to insurers. Unlike the Environment Agency in England, SEPA does not provide specific flood risk datasets to the insurance industry.
When evidence is submitted to SEPA showing misuse of the flood maps, SEPA is proactive in dealing with the issue. In the first instance a letter of concern would be issued to the organisation responsible for the misuse, to reinforce SEPA's terms and conditions and to stipulate that the particular use of the maps brought to SEPA's attention is accountable to legal challenge. If an organisation continues to misuse the maps, and there is sufficient evidence to prove this, SEPA will take legal action against the organisation.