Insurers are focusing on flood claims, which threatens to delay other customers (Ben Stansall)
Consumers told to allow more time for payouts as insurers process cases from flood-stricken areas
Anna Mikhailova Published: 23 February 2014
CONSUMERS who managed to escape the flooding have been warned that any insurance claims they make may be delayed as insurers deal with a huge volume of cases from the worst affected areas.
Last week Britain’s biggest insurers were summoned to a meeting with David Cameron at Downing Street to provide an update on the industry’s response to the widespread flooding that has crippled parts of the country.
Insurers promised that flood-related claims would be resolved as quickly as possible. More than 174,000 customers submitted claims for flood and storm damage over the Christmas break, with thousands more expected to have been filed in the eight weeks since.
However, insurance brokers have warned that anecdotal evidence suggests other customers will have to wait longer for their claims to be resolved as a result.
Andrew Boldt of the broker Insurance Tailors said: “Insurers are coping well with the spike in flood and storm-related claims by increasing resources. However, we have seen a number of cases that have been taking longer to resolve in recent weeks, which I suspect is due to the influx of flooding claims.
“We have an ongoing accidental loss of personal possessions claim for a watch, which we would normally expect to process within a week, but it has already taken almost a month.”
In another case, a customer services provider at the insurer Quote Me Happy, which is underwritten by Aviva, said a car insurance claim had not been looked at for more than a month because they had been “inundated with calls” about flooding. Despite this, Aviva denied it was struggling with a backlog. It said: “While there has been an increase in claims due to the weather, there has been no impact on service because of this.”
Ben Wilson at the insurer gocompare.com said: “We know insurers are dealing with very high volumes of claims and, regardless of what extra steps are being taken, it is unlikely that things will move as fast as those who have been affected would like.
“Insurers often have to prioritise claims on a case by case basis, which may add to the frustration for some customers. If you feel there is a significant delay in the time it is taking to process your claim, contact your insurer to complain and see what options are available.”
Huw Evans, deputy director general of the Association of British Insurers rejected the suggestion that claims were being delayed. He said: “The situation is under control and customers have been helped speedily and effectively since the flooding and bad weather began in December.
“Insurers have been working round the clock to help customers through this difficult time. While recent flooding is significant, it is one-tenth the size of floods in 2007. Our members have made provision for situations of this type and are dealing with both flood-related and non-flood-related claims in a timely and efficient way.”
The accountancy firm Deloitte has estimated that the recent flooding has cost the insurance industry as much as £500m. Victims of the flooding were warned last week that repairs may not be completed until the end of the year.
Paul Evans, group chief executive at insurer Axa, said: “Every claim is unique, and unfortunately many will take months to complete the necessary drying out, decontamination, and repairs.”
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