Home insurance claims

Flash-flood claims underline weather change predictions

19 June 2009

Short, sharp storms brought chaos to householders in many parts of the UK this week, prompting new insurance claims for flooding, storm damage and lightning strikes, reinforcing the findings of the UK Climate Projections unveiled by the Environment Secretary on Thursday (18 June), says AA Insurance.

Last week some places in East Anglia, the South-West and South-East were deluged with their monthly average rainfall in just a couple of hours, along with high winds and violent thunderstorms in the latest of a number of 'freak' storms this year. Many families are counting the cost of the worst that the British weather can deliver.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance says: "The UK Climate Projections, based on research by the Met Office's Hadley Centre, make grim reading and insurers will be considering how they can best support customers over coming decades. But while widespread flooding of the sort experienced in 2007 remains relatively rare even in identified flood-prone locations, the growing number of flash floods that can happen almost anywhere is a stark reminder of what is happening to the UK climate.

"We are getting home insurance claims from places where there is no previous history of flooding. Drainage systems are often unable to cope with some of the sudden and extreme downpours we have been experiencing. As a result, homes are being flooded in unexpected places.

"It's clear that there must be greater investment in flood defences while local authorities should also review their own flood handling capability. Ensuring storm drains are clear of damage and debris and upgraded where necessary would be a good place to start. Drainage problems often only come to light when it's too late, leaving families with an expensive mopping-up job to do."

"Home Insurance and car insurance claims are a natural consequence of severe weather. Yet many people are cutting back on insurance which can be a big mistake."

AA Insurance says that recent weeks have seen a noticeable increase in the number of potential claims notified.

Douglas points out that the recession has led a fifth (22 per cent)1 of home owners to cancel or not renew their home cover in a bid to cut their outgoings, and many will be regretting that decision now.

"The insurance industry has a good record for helping people who have suffered at the mercy of extreme weather and there is no reason to expect that to change. Now would be a very good time for those who have not renewed their cover to look for a more competitive insurer rather than cancelling altogether."

Case Study

Janet and Dennis Foker of Carbrooke in Suffolk told AA Insurance claims staff:

"There was a violent and very scary ice storm with huge hailstones that caused damage to buildings and cars in our village and piling up in drifts – feet deep in some places. The storm passed and the sun came out again, so all the ice started melting. Then freezing cold water started cascading through the back door. Shovelling the ice away and trying to block the door with towels and blankets seemed useless – the water poured in, then disappeared leaving us with ruined carpets and furniture and a big insurance claim.

"But we were lucky," she added. "Nearby houses and the village school were flooded with up to four feet of water and the school had to be closed. It's like our village was being picked on – it's the first time we've ever had floods. Yet only a mile away there had been no rain at all."

factfile

1Source: Association of British Insurers, survey published 6 June 2009

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19 June 2009