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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 16:38 GMT
Insurers criticised over floods
Looe lifeboat station
More than 3ft of water flooded buildings in Looe
Insurers have been criticised for their treatment of some victims of recent flooding in the South West.

Several people have complained of exclusions in the small print, high excesses and the cancellation of cover.

For some areas, October's stormy weather caused the worst flooding many residents had seen for 25 years.

The Association of British Insurers said customers should be able to find cover, but that they should read all their policy documents carefully.

It really was just a tiny little bit of print which we were not aware of
Gaye Davey

In Looe, east Cornwall, storms on 27 October caused the sea to breach the town's harbour wall. This resulted in 3ft (1 metre) of water flooding about 30 shops, businesses and homes.

Estimates of the damage caused run into thousands of pounds.

But some who tried to claim damage costs on their insurance said they got an unpleasant surprise.

Gaye Davey of the Street Life Boutique found that the small print of her policy excluded any items kept on or within 15 inches (38cm) of the floor.

She said: "It really was just a tiny little bit of print which we were not aware of.

"I think it is silly because space is always at a premium. You use the floor to store stuff."

The Archdeacon Restaurant had its flood cover cancelled just one week before because of the "history of such events", the insurance company said.

Industry agreement

Paul Crossley of the restaurant said: "They are a law unto themselves, basically.

"They charge what they basically want these days. Unless it is a major incident, it is just not worth claiming."

Other people in the town said their insurers intended to pay up - but that their big concern was what would happen when their policies came up for renewal.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers said there was an industry-wide agreement to make sure people could get cover for places vulnerable to flooding.

She said this meant that if one company withdrew its cover, customers should be able to go to another company.

As regards the small print, she said: "All policies taken out have small print, and customers should read it carefully."

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28 Oct 04  |  Cornwall
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17 Oct 04  |  Humber


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