INVESTIGATIONS are to be launched amid fears York householders could face huge insurance rises following the recent floods, after one company raised bills by almost 1,000 per cent - for an address that had not even flooded.

York Central MP and City of York Council executive member Andrew Waller both say they plan to investigate, and Ms Maskell said she feared other insurers may also try to impose crippling increases.

They both spoke out after a resident of Carnot Street off Leeman Road was told his monthly premiums were to rise from £34 to £357, even though his home had been protected by flood defences.

Alex Willmott, an author and former journalist, was also told by his insurer, HomeProtect, that he would face a £25,000 flood excess in the event of his home being flooded in future. They said it was now classified as being at a higher risk of flooding, following the 'introduction of new information predicting the risk of ground water and flash flooding.'

His home and the entire Leeman Road area stayed dry when York was hit by heavy rain on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and when the River Ouse subsequently rose to a near-record 5.3 metres above normal summer levels.

Flood embankments and other defences which were only strengthened a couple of years ago saved the area from inundation, when other parts of York were badly flooded.

Mr Wilmott, 31, said the mark-up was 'unreal,' and he feared what insurers would demand from householders in areas such as Huntington Road which were actually flooded.

He said paying the increased charge would have been 'horrific' but fortunately, in his case, he had been able to shop around and eventually found a deal from another insurer which was even better than his old premium with HomeProtect. However, he feared others might not initially notice increases and feared some residents might not know how to use search engines to shop around and find a better deal.

Cllr Andrew Waller, council environment executive member, who himself formerly lived in Carnot Street, said he was 'very alarmed' by the hike and intended to investigate.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said she was very concerned by the increase, which she feared insurers might try to impose elsewhere in York, and also pledged to investigate.

But a spokeswoman for HomeProtect said: "In essence, as with any insurer, we have to act responsibly to manage our exposure to flood risks and in particular, over-exposure to risk in concentrated localities.

"We use our own data and continually acquire the best information we can from external sources in order to make these decisions. We also use data which predicts the likelihood of surface water flooding.

"In this particular case, we assessed the property to be a high risk and when taking into account all factors, we have had to apply a higher premium to cover the risk. We should also add that Mr Willmott’s policy terms didn’t oblige him to renew his policy with us.

"We are delighted that Mr Willmott’s property hasn’t flooded before and that he managed to avoid the recent flooding which has affected other parts of York.

"Unfortunately, it isn’t just about previous flooding events. Many of the properties flooded this winter have not been flooded before and the changing climactic conditions we’re now seeing in the UK will continue to present a challenge to homeowners at risk of flooding."

However, she said HomeProtect was an 'ardent supporter' of 'Flood Re,' a new Government-backed initiative launching in April, which would enable approved insurers such as HomeProtect to offer full cover for flood at a much lower premium.