Environment secretary Owen Paterson has derided reports that the government was struggling to secure a new deal with flood insurers for vulnerable homes as "complete nonsense".

It was claimed on Monday that hundreds of thousands of homes may be left without flood cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills would be covered.

uk floods

The floods have caused three deaths huge amounts of damage throughout England

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) had claimed that talks about a "safety net" deal to ensure those in flood-risk areas can continue to afford their policies were at "crisis point".

But on Monday evening, Mr Paterson said talks were ongoing - and that ministers were committed to securing a good deal for both householders and the taxpayer.

The environment secretary was speaking as he updated MPs on a flooding crisis which has hit homes in regions across England and Wales, leaving three dead and more than 900 homes evacuated.

Speaking in the Commons, he added that more heavy rain was expected and it was too soon to quantify the full scale of the damage.

Pressed to comment on the row with insurers by his Labour shadow Mary Creagh, Mr Paterson said: "Today's story is complete nonsense. The very first meeting I had outside my office after taking office was with the ABI, we have had most constructive and detailed discussions with them since.

"There was a senior level meeting as recently as the end of last week. I'm looking forward to receiving the ABI's latest suggestions.

uk floods

The environment secretary insisted that talks with insurers had not stalled

"We are determined to arrive at a replacement for the statement of principles which provides universality, which is affordable and does not provide a major burden on the taxpayer."

Mr Paterson said it was Labour who left office in 2010 without laying any groundwork for a replacement to the statement of principles - an agreement between the government and insurers to ensure householders at flood risk can get insurance.

Ms Creagh told MPs that if chancellor George Osborne could not announce a deal in next month's Autumn Statement, householders would find it impossible to get insurance for their homes.

Insurers want to top-slice all insurance premiums to create a new funding pot to cover flooding claims.

But while that is being built up, they want the government to step in to provide a temporary overdraft to cover any shortfall during intense periods of flooding.

Downing Street said it had put forward a proposal to the industry last week, which was being considered - a claim that was dismissed by the ABI.

Over the weekend, a 21-year-old woman was killed and two people were seriously injured in Western Way, Exeter, when they were crushed by a tree as wild winds whipped southern England, and a 50-year-old man died after falling into a canal in Watford.

It followed the death on Thursday of a man who was killed when his car became wedged under a bridge near a ford in Rectory Fields, Chew Stoke, Somerset.

In his statement to MPs, Mr Paterson offered condolences to the family and friends of those killed.

He said: "The whole House would wish to express its profound sympathy to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones at this time."

uk floods

Households have been left to count the costs of the latest flooding

Mr Paterson said the Environment Agency currently had 197 flood warnings and 291 flood alerts in place across the country.

Forecasters warned of more trouble ahead as a band of persistent rain moves across northern England and North Wales, with County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and the Conwy area of North Wales likely to be worst affected.

Heavy showers are also forecast in Wiltshire, Dorset and central southern England, while gale-force winds are likely to hit the northern coast of Cornwall, the north east coast of England and parts of Wales.

The Environment Agency is predicting river levels to swell overnight with the River Severn being of particular concern.

The A417 at Maisemore has already flooded, is closed and will not be open in the morning so drivers will need to find an alternative route for travelling.

The River Severn at Tewkesbury is expected to peak at 4.8m - a metre less than the 2007 peak - overnight or early Tuesday morning.

Mr Paterson said more than 900 properties had been flooded, including up to 500 in the South West alone. He said evacuations may increase given the forecast.

He said road and rail networks had also been affected, including particularly train lines in the South West.

The environment secretary offered his thanks to emergency service staff, local authorities, the Environment Agency and volunteers for their response to the floods.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Residents of Old Malton moves their bikes through waters as they begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Workers wade through waters as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: People walk through waters surrounding buildings as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Workers walk through water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD-MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A man walk around the corner in flood waters as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A man walks in the water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Rescue works assist the area as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A woman holds her dog while moving through the water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Machinery drains water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A man walks in the water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Residents Deal With Flooding Aftermath

    OLD MALTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A man pedals a bike through water as residents of Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the recent floods on November 28, 2012 in Old Malton, England. Fire crews continue to pump large amount of surface flood water away from overflowing drains that have been threatening many properties in the area. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Autumn Weather November 27th

    Washing hangs from a line in a back garden in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Weather November 27th

    North Easterly winds bring gales and huge waves to the North East coastline as the harbour at Seaham takes the brunt of the storm.

  • Autumn Weather November 27th

    Water flows over the High Force water fall in Middleton-in Teesdale as rivers across the country burst their banks.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Fire fighters make their way along a flooded main street in Old Malton, North Yorkshire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Fire fighters carrying cups of tea make their way along the flooded main street in Old Malton, North Yorkshire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Fire fighters make their way along the flooded main street in Old Malton, North Yorkshire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A fire fighter makes his way along the flooded main street in Old Malton, North Yorkshire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    North Easterly winds bring gales and huge waves to the North East coastline as the harbour at Seaham takes the brunt of the storm.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    North Easterly winds bring gales and huge waves to the North East coastline as the harbour at Seaham takes the brunt of the storm.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Prime Minister David Cameron talks with resident James Rice, in Buckfastleigh, near Exeter, as he explains how the floods quickly rose inside his house during the recent floods.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Prime Minister David Cameron listens as resident Musky Kendall, in Buckfastleigh, near Exeter, explains how the floods quickly rose inside her house during the recent floods.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Prime Minister David Cameron, walks through Buckfastleigh, near Exeter, which was hit by a flash flood last week following heavy rain.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Prime Minister David Cameron listens as resident Musky Kendall, in Buckfastleigh, near Exeter, explains how the floods quickly rose inside her house during the recent floods.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Prime Minister David Cameron listens as resident Musky Kendall, in Buckfastleigh, near Exeter, explains how the floods quickly rose inside her house during the recent floods.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Crew Commander from Tewkesbury fire station Dave Webb carries 19-month-old Beth with her mother Tina Bailey carrying her three and a half year old sister Hannah, after they were rescued from their house in Gloucester.

  • Autumn Weather November 27th

    A man looks out of a window as a crew from the RNLI and paramedics pass a submerged car in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn Weather November 27th

    A man climbs into a lifeboat in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Flood Warnings In Northern United Kingdom As Heavy Rain Storms Hit

    ST ASAPH, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 27: An RNLI life boat crew work in the flooded streets of St Asaph in North Wales after torrential overnight rain on November 27, 2012 in St Asaph, United Kingdom. Residents in up to 500 homes in St Asaph have been advised to evacuate as flood waters continue to rise and the River Elwy breaks its banks. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire is surrounded by floodwater as the River Severn swells after days of heavy rain.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Workmen construct a raised walk way for residents in flats in the Skeldergate area of York city centre.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Sandbags and pumps work to keep the River Ouse from flooding York city centre.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Floodwater in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A property surrounded by floodwater next to the River Severn in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Dion Bekatoros works to keep out the rising water of the River Ouse outside his taxi office in York city centre.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Sandbags and pumps work to keep the River Ouse from flooding York city centre.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Floodwater in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A crew from the North Wales Fire and Rescue service help a resident to safety in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Residents walk along a flooded street in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Residents of St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales make their way through flood waters after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Crew Commander from Tewkesbury fire station Dave Webb carries 19-month-old Beth with her mother Tina Bailey carrying her three and a half year old sister Hannah, after they were rescued from their house in Gloucester.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A woman carries her dog as she makes her way through flood waters in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A crew from the North Wales Fire and Rescue service help a resident to safety in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A crew from the North Wales Fire and Rescue service help a resident to safety in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Residents of St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    People rescue chickens from flooding in Gloucester.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Tina Bailey with her daughters 19-month-old Beth and three and a half year old Hannah, as they were rescued from their house in Gloucester.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Crew Commander from Tewkesbury fire station Dave Webb (right) carries 19-month-old Beth with her mother Tina Bailey carrying her three and a half year old sister Hannah, after they were rescued from their house in Gloucester.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Resident walk through flood waters in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    A crew from the RNLI make their way through flood waters in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, North Wales after the town flooded overnight.

  • Autumn weather November 27th

    Crew Commander from Tewkesbury fire station Dave Webb carries 19-month-old Beth with her mother Tina Bailey carrying her three and a half year old sister Hannah, after they were rescued from their house in Gloucester.