The insurance industry has insisted that the situation “is under control” after facing criticism and calls for faster service to people affected by the UK flooding crisis.
On Tuesday, government ministers met with insurers to discuss how those living in flooded homes were being helped.
Representatives from 60% of the insurance market assured the government that they were acting quickly and agreed to meet with ministers each month to report on their progress.
This came after prime minister David Cameron urged the industry to deal with flood claims as quickly as possible. Labour leader Ed Miliband had also called on the government to force the insurance industry to set “a clear standard” for those affected.
“What these families want to know is that they don’t have to wait for months on end to receive insurance payouts or wait over a year to get back in their homes”, Miliband said while meeting flood victims in Somerset.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy added, “Insurers must not drag their feet in helping people recover.”
“People whose homes and possessions have been wrecked by storms simply can’t afford for insurers to add to their pile of problems with unfair or slow service”, she said.
Commenting after the summit with representatives from Downing Street, Otto Thoresen, director general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said, “Insurers assured ministers the situation is under control and that customers have been helped speedily and effectively since the flooding and bad weather began in December.
“They emphasised the long recovery process ahead and their commitment to helping customers through this difficult time.”
According to ABI, the insured bill for the damage caused by the storms and flooding between December 23 and January 8 alone looks set to cost £426m.
It is expected the full cost to insurers will reach more than £1 billion.
“This was a traumatic event for those affected, and shows the importance of having adequate property insurance. The insurance industry is fully prepared to deal with the damage caused by bad weather like this”, added Aidan Kerr, head of property at ABI.
People in some flooded areas have been told that water levels may yet rise further – although forecasters say the worst seems to be over.
The Environment Agency downgraded all of its severe flood warnings that had been in place along the banks of the River Thames yesterday. Only two such warnings – which mean there is a danger to life in affected areas – remain in place in Somerset.