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Tuesday, 2 June, 1998, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Floods cost insurers dear
flooded street
Massive claims on the way for flood damage
Insurance claims from the damage caused by torrential rain and floods in Britain could be as high as 1.5 billion, sending premiums for all kinds of insurance rocketing by up to a third.

Jeffrey Salmon of insurance claim negotiators, Salmon Assessors, said early estimates of 500 million could be "drastically out".

"We believe it's going to be somewhere between 1.2 billion and 1.5 billion, which would be far more than the 1.2 billion paid out in the aftermath of the 1987 hurricane," he said.

"It is impossible at this early stage to give a scientific projection, but judging by the claims already received, this could be the final figure.

"This will affect all sorts of insurance - cars, buildings, contents - and we believe that within nine months premiums will probably go up by a maximum of around 35% in order for insurers to recoup their losses quickly.

Tony Baker, deputy director general of the Association of British Insurers, advised people with insurance whose property has been damaged should contact their insurer as soon as possible.

"Insurance companies have helplines and claims lines running all the time, so call them," he said.

Temporary repairs should be made where possible, but people should keep receipts for any materials they buy to help them claim from their insurer later, he said.

There have been warnings of further flooding, with residents urged to evacuate their homes.

Heavy rains, which started on Thursday and peaked on Friday, have already left several people dead and have caused extensive damage to property.

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