Flood insurance is expected to become more widely available to property owners in areas benefiting from flood defence works.

Minister of State Brian Hayes today signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of Public Works and Insurance Ireland.

It means that from 1 June, for the first time, the OPW will share flood defence data with Insurance Ireland so that insurance companies can take that data into account when assessing flood risk in those areas.

The OPW will provide information on the design, extent and nature of the protections offered by the defence works.

Mr Hayes said he is confident this memorandum will lead to a greater availability of insurance to those who currently find it difficult to get.

Insurance Ireland has said it is too early to say how many households will benefit from the Memorandum of Understanding.

Insurance Ireland CEO Kevin Thompson said there have been nine major floods since 2000, costing approximately €750m in claims.

He said the Memorandum of Understanding is the start of a process that will help members make flood insurance more widely available in areas benefiting from flood defences built to the desired standard.

Mr Hayes said €370m has been invested by the State in all parts of the country since 1995, resulting in more than €1bn in damage and losses being avoided.