Storm Desmond insured losses could exceed 2009 Cumbria floods

flooded street

Insured losses from Storm Desmond, which battered Cumbria on 5 and 6 December, could eclipse the £175m insured losses caused by flooding in the area in 2009, according to modelling firm RMS.

RMS flood risk expert Maurizio Savina said it was too early to estimate insured losses but available information suggests the losses could exceed those recorded after the 2009 Cumbria floods.

The total cost of the 2009 floods in Cumbria was £276m with an estimated £124m worth of damage to shops, farms and factories, £91m worth damage to homes and £34m to the county's bridges and roads.

"In November alone, northwest England has had more than double its normal rainfall levels, while southern Scotland and Northern Ireland have received around 147% and 164%, respectively, of their monthly rainfall average," Savina said.

Advisory firm PWC has estimated the insurance industry could pay out between £250m and £325m in claims from damage caused by Storm Desmond with overall damage estimated at between £450m and £500m.

Mohammad Khan, PWC UK general insurance leader, said: "Clearly these are initial estimates as there is still uncertainty as to the number of properties and businesses affected. If the storm continues, the damage - and therefore the costs - could be significantly worse."

Any additional rainfall - even 1cm-2cm - could cause flash flooding in rain affected areas as the ground is already saturated with water. This could compound the damage that has already been caused by Storm Desmond," Khan added.

On 5 and 6 December, Storm Desmond caused widespread flooding across Cumbria, with Carlisle, Cockermouth, Keswick and Kendal among the worst-affected areas.

An update from loss adjuster Cunningham Lindsey today (8 December) said in Carlisle, initial reports suggest the damage is worse than the 2005 floods, while in Cockermouth, the flood water levels are four feet lower than in 2009 but the damage is still significant.

Cunningham Lindsey said the volume of claims it had received was eight times its business as usual figures. Of the new storm and flood claims, currently 80% are flood claims.

Three weather-related deaths have been reported (at 8 December). The body of an elderly man was found in the River Kent in Cumbria, Irish police have recovered the body of Ivan Vaughan, 70, in Co Monaghan, and a 90-year-old man died after being blown into a bus by high winds in North London.

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