Claims surge with Storm Ciara impact set to continue

Storm ciara

Insurers and loss adjusters are reporting a surge in claims and calls, as they warn more disruption and damage is expected after Storm Ciara hit the UK over the weekend with winds of more than 80mph.

The government warned people to remain “vigilant and stay safe with significant number of flood alerts in place across the country”.

Chris Wilding, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said yesterday: “Some significant river flooding is possible across parts of the north of England today due to heavy, persistent rain and severe gale force winds associated with Storm Ciara. We urge people in at-risk areas to remain vigilant.

“Minor coastal flooding impacts are also possible for parts of the south, west and north-east England coast, where high tides, large waves and coastal gales combine. We advise people to check their flood risk, stay safe and avoid activities such as storm selfies.

“Environment Agency staff are on the ground checking defences and assets across the weekend, clearing debris from trash screens and are ready to deploy temporary flood barriers if necessary.”

North Yorkshire police have taken a number of calls due to storm Ciara including flooded roads, trapped motorists, fallen trees, escaped livestock and “even a shed that had blown onto a road and blocked it”. 

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “No corner of the county has escaped today’s bad weather, and our Force Control Room and frontline officers have dealt with a large range and high volume of weather-related incidents.

“We’re working closely with other organisations including North Yorkshire’s Highways team to keep routes as clear as possible and divert motorists if absolutely necessary.

“If you see a diversion, remember it’s there for your safety. If a road is flooded or closed, please don’t be tempted to chance it – it won’t save you any time and it could be a costly mistake.”

As of 11am this morning there were 106 flood warnings and 221 flood alerts in place by the Environment Agency.

The Met has issued a yellow warning for the storm which is expected to continue over the coming days with wind, snow and ice across the UK.

Surge in claims

According to Paul Bowyer, managing director of claims solutions at Crawford, it is too early to give an indication of claims volume.

He said: “We have received hundreds of claims and are expecting more claims to arrive today as the flooding and storm damage is widespread. The worst affected regions are West Yorkshire, North Wales, Todmorden (Lancashire), Preston and Cumbria.

“Access is our main priority at the moment as emergency services are restricting access, many claims are in isolated areas and snow is forecast for some areas.

“When flood occurs a challenge is always finding the right alternative accommodation for everyone. We have prioritised the most vulnerable people, but regions like Cumbria have relatively few options so the choices are hotels, holiday lets, short-term tenancies and staying with family and friends. Caravans are a risk because of space and the potential for further flooding down the line.

He added that Crawford will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and will move adjusters to where demand is required.

He concluded: “We are also deploying our We Go Look Lookers to provide assistance and will obtain drone footage once we have approval from emergency services.”

Chris Hall, managing director at Questgates said: “Whilst we invoked our surge plan over the weekend we were very quiet but volumes of new instructions have risen dramatically over the last couple of hours with some potentially very large claims being received. On the basis of the feedback we are getting from clients on their volume of calls it certainly looks like we could be looking at a major event with damage being geographically widespread.”

UK-wide

According to Paul Branch, head of claims at NFU Mutual, this is one of the worst UK-wide storms to hit UK for several years.

He said: “Dozens of rural roads have been blocked by fallen trees in all parts of the UK – but so far the most worrying reports are about serious flooding in the North West, Wales and Yorkshire where heavy rain has fallen, and rivers have already burst their banks. Farmers in the Lake District, Lancashire and North Yorkshire have had their farms and homes flooded, putting livestock and property at risk.

“As the UK’s main insurer of farming and the countryside, we have a network of over 300 local offices in towns and villages across the UK with staff who know their customers and which properties are at risk of flooding and wind damage. They will help policyholders get claims underway and sort out emergency cash and alternative accommodation if customers can’t stay in their own homes, arranging for properties to be surveyed and repairs started without delay.” 

He added: “Storm-force winds in rural areas can cause significant damage as farms and homes are situated on higher ground and less protected by other buildings. Rural areas can be prone to power cuts with lines brought down by high winds and fallen trees. We’ve triggered our emergency claims plans so that our teams on the ground can deliver the support the situation demands.

Branch pointed out that in late 2015 and early 2016 the extreme weather of storms Desmond, Eva and Frank, totalled £50m in claims for NFU Mutual alone.

So far, Allianz has received a mixture of both flood and storm claims with 32 claims received for commercial property and four for household.

Jeremy Trott, head of operational claims at Allianz:“We proactively issued storm and flooding advice to our brokers at the end of last week, to ensure that our customers could be as prepared as possible for Storm Ciara. 50% of the team came into work early and we also extended our business opening hours to make sure that customer claims were dealt with.

“By 11am this morning, we received double the amount of calls for Household Property, seeing a mixture of both flood and storm claims. So far for Commercial Property, we have received 32 claims and four for Household.

“We will continue to work with our loss adjusters and partners to ensure that customers receive the support they need. As we’re still at an early phase, we would expect the number of claims to go up throughout the day and will continue to extend our business opening hours over the next week”.

RSA confirmed it has also received a number of claims.

A spokesperson for RSA said: “We’ve received a number of claims as a result of Storm Ciara and we’re working hard to help those affected. We know it’s is a difficult time for our customers, and our staff have worked through the weekend to support them. We’re monitoring the situation closely and have extra resources in place to help the customers affected.”

Meanwhile, Axa reported an increase in calls due to storm over the weekend.

A spokesperson for Axa said: “Over the weekend we saw a seven-fold increase in calls due to Storm Ciara, which has affected hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. To tackle the sheer volume of calls being received, we have put a number of measures in place including moving team leads and support staff onto claims lines, increasing the fast track limit our claims handlers can apply for storms and updating our website and social pages with advice for affected customers.”

A spokesperson for LV said: “We opened up all our claims lines yesterday so that we were immediately on hand to help our customers and we’re also getting more people than normal to support for rest of the week so we can manage claims as quickly as possible”

A spokesperson for Zurich said: “Our first notification of loss teams have been responding to telephone and web portal notifications and helping our customers reporting wind storm and flood damage. However, we will really only have a clearer view on the real impact of storm Ciara later this week as we continue to receive further claims from our customers. Our property suppliers are well prepared and are in correspondence with us with regards to operational status.”

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