Wales politics

Anger as insurer rejects Maesteg family's flood damage claim

Mark and Cerys Jenkins with children Sami, 11 and Lewi, two
Image caption Mark and Cerys Jenkins with children Sami, 11 and Lewi, two

An insurance company has been accused of "giving the industry a bad name" for rejecting a claim by a family whose home was hit by flooding near Bridgend.

Mark Jenkins has been told by Ocaso his claim in November is being refused because he did not declare the house in Maesteg was within 200m of a river.

Ogmore AM Huw-Irranca Davies said the flooding was nothing to do with the river and the firm was "unreasonable".

Ocaso said it was "in discussions" with Mr Jenkins.

People living in Maesteg described the flooding that followed heavy rain in November, caused by Storm Angus, as "devastating".

'Utter devastation'

Mr Jenkins estimates it caused about £50,000 of damage to his house and is challenging Ocaso's decision not to pay out.

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Media captionMark Jenkins: "It's just utter devastation at the moment"

He, his wife Cerys and their children Sami, 11 and Lewi, two, had to move out and are living with her parents.

"It's a bit of a struggle as you can imagine, four of us in one room," he said.

"[Our] two-year-old [was] looking forward to one of his first major Christmases in the house, that's not going to happen.

"It's just utter devastation at the moment - we're just making do.

"We're just lucky we've got close family to put us up because otherwise we're effectively homeless because we can't live here."

Mr Jenkins said he does not "recall" the question about the proximity of a river being asked and said the insurer was "nit-picking".

Mr Irranca-Davies, the local AM and a former UK government floods minister, said Ocaso's handling of the case had been "terrible".

"They need to show some compassion," he said.

"Anybody with an ounce of decency would understand that this was out of the blue skies, it was a deluge of a flood, nothing to do with river flooding.

"It's a genuine claim for a couple and their family and their children who are now out of their home for Christmas, whose home is in devastation.

"Show some decency, I say to this company, and pay up.

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Media captionOgmore AM Huw Irranca-Davies: Insurer should "show compassion"

"It's giving the insurance industry a bad name."

A spokesman for Ocaso said: "We are in discussions with our policyholder regarding this matter and the information provided when the policy was initially proposed.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage."

The Welsh Government has written to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) about the case.

In the letter, Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said her officials believe the flood was not caused by "any main river".

'Assess risk'

An ABI spokeswoman said: "Insurance is there to provide help and support when the worst happens.

"It's important people answer questions honestly and to the best of their knowledge when taking out a policy so the insurer can assess the risk they're at and set their premium appropriately.

"The Financial Ombudsman Service exists to investigate any cases where a customer feels they have not been treated fairly.

"The insurance industry takes the availability of property insurance for flood risk areas very seriously which is why it worked with Government to set up the world first Flood Re scheme, which exists to ensure people can access affordable insurance for their homes.

"It's always a good idea to shop around when buying insurance to find the best priced policy to suit your situation."

Mr Irranca-Davies has also called for rules to change so that insurance companies themselves identify how close a customer's house is to a river, rather than customers having to declare it themselves.

In response, the ABI said it was down to individual firms to decide what approach to take.

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