Floods bill for winter estimated at 1.3bn, says ABI
Insurance claims for damage caused by floods so far this winter will reach £1.3bn, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said.
The figure is the value of claims for those affected by Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank for damage to homes, businesses and vehicles.
The ABI said that around £24m in emergency payments had already been paid to families and businesses.
More than 3,000 families are now in alternative accommodation.
Homes and business have made almost 15,000 claims as a consequence of the three storms, according to the ABI.
Huw Evans, the ABI's director general, said the £1.3bn was "our estimate of the total cost, but clearly these numbers could change as future claims are made but this is broadly what we expect the cost to be for the damage caused by the storms of the last month".
When asked on the BBC's Today programme if it would mean increased premiums, he said it was a "very significant event" and "clearly would have some further impact down the line, but it was too early to say what that will be".
The storms caused widespread flooding and damage across the UK in December, with Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria in England and central and north-east Scotland among the worst affected.
The government has said 16,000 homes were flooded.
The ABI's figures are based on data collected from its members, which are the majority of major insurance companies, covering 3 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.
The average insurance claim for damage is £50,000, well above the average of £31,000 for the storms of winter 2013-14.
The overall bill, however, is well below the £3bn total for the storm damage caused in 2007.
The Association of British Insurers said that anyone with flood-damaged possessions should:
- Contact their home insurer for immediate advice on what to do next. In some cases an inspection of possessions will not be necessary.
- Dispose of any items that are a health hazard, such as rotting food.
- Take photos of damaged items before throwing them away.
- List, as far as possible, details of damaged items.
- For items like carpets and soft furnishings, take a cutting as this can help your insurer in providing a similar replacement or cash payment.
Customers have made nearly 15,000 claims for damaged property, and 5,600 claims for damage to vehicles.
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: "The impact of flooding will be felt for many months to come in affected areas.
"Cleaning, drying out and repairing flood-damaged properties is a major undertaking.
"Insurers and their expert teams will be there for the long haul to help communities rebuild and repair."
However, Paul Hendy of the Scottish Flood Forum said despite assurances from the industry, many people felt "abandoned and frustrated" by their insurance company.
Homeowners reported difficulties getting through to their insurer to register a claim, and often waited weeks for a visit from a loss adjuster, meaning delays before dehumidifiers were installed and further damage, he said.
"Our concern is that despite the storms being widely publicised throughout the UK, the insurance industry could perhaps have been a little bit more prepared in their response," he said.