Frustrated family tell of delays over insurance

Fixing homes: The clean-up after the Boxing Day floods in Croston
Fixing homes: The clean-up after the Boxing Day floods in Croston
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As the clean-up got underway after the Boxing Day floods, insurance was a key issue for many people in Croston.

Some people had insurance and could make a claim to pay for the repairs to their homes and businesses after the damage caused by Storm Eva.

Advice:  Alex Balcombe

Advice: Alex Balcombe

But others could not afford to pay the excess and some people did not even have insurance because of the cost of the premiums.

The Lyth family, of Yarrow Close, were frustrated with the delay - more than six weeks after the floods - following a claim to their insurance company.

Teacher Helen Lyth, 42, and her husband, motorbike mechanic Robert, 47, put in a claim of more than £22,500.

Helen said: “At this point in time we’ve not had one single penny from the insurance company.”

Flooding in Croston

Flooding in Croston

She said they were still waiting for a £5,000 advance payment to be put into their bank.

“The only money we’ve had is £500 from the council,” said Mrs Lyth.

She added: “We can’t do anything. We’re living in a damp house at the moment.

“I feel it would have been better if we’d not had insurance because other people have received help.

“I know some people that moved out of their house, had their property done and moved back in and redecorated.

“They have offered to put us somewhere else, if you want it, but at the moment we feel we don’t want to be out too long because nothing has been done yet.”

One of the companies working with businesses and residents in Lancashire is loss assessor and claims management consultancy Harris Balcombe.

Director Alex Balcombe said: “If you take a typical residential street, you have perhaps got 40 per cent of claims moving at a good pace, you have got 40 per cent of claims moving at an okay pace and 20 per cent of the claims that are being dealt with shockingly badly.

“What we keep saying is it’s the usual suspects. Insurers that respond well in the quiet times respond well in the busy times because there is a corporate culture of dealing with things properly.”

He encouraged people to shop around when buying insurance. He said: “It’s a mistake for people to just go online and look for the cheapest possible premium. They need to find a premium that covers them for what they need.”

But some people struggle to get insurance cover at all.

Kevin Singleton, director of Berry’s Insurance Brokers in Leyland, said: “It’s very hard for people who live in high flood risk areas to even get a quote from insurance companies.

“A lot of companies use outside resources for flood mapping. They tend to use an independent resource to identify specific areas of flooding and can literally do it to within a few metres.

“You could get a property in a certain area and one a few hundreds metres down the road and one will get it and one won’t.”

The firm has customers living in Croston but Kevin said insurance cover does vary around the village.

He said: “We have properties in Croston with flood cover and properties that haven’t. It depends on what the independent advisors with the insurance companies say is a high-risk zone and which isn’t.

“There are certain properties where you can’t get cover full stop, there are properties with cover but a higher excess and properties with normal rates.”

Insurance cover for areas that have flooded or are at risk of flooding has been a hot topic in recent years and the Government is launching a scheme in April to help those whose homes have been affected.

Flood Re is expected to help around 350,000 households to get more affordable insurance premiums and lower policy excesses.

Malcolm Tarling, chief media relations officer for the Association of British Insurers, said the “vast majority” of people should already be able to get home insurance, including those in flood risk areas.

But he continued: “Although flood insurance is available, it may be priced at a level they can’t afford because the flood risk is so bad.

“That’s why the industry has spent time developing Flood Re.

“It’s designed to ensure people who would otherwise not be able to access flood insurance cover can access it at affordable prices.”

In future, insurance companies will pass the flood part of cover to Flood Re and if a claim is made, it will be paid by the insurance company and they will be reimbursed by Flood Re.

It will be funded by an annual levy paid by the insurers.

Malcolm said that customers would not notice any difference other than the cost of their insurance premiums and excess.

“The whole point of this for customers is that the flood element of your insurance premium will be capped at a level depending on your council tax band. Those on the lowest council tax band will pay the least for their flood insurance,” he said.

“It doesn’t cover other elements of your policy so insurers will continue to price the other parts of your policy in the same way.”