On the 5th of May it will be six-months since the floods, caused by Storm Desmond, hit Cumbria and surrounding areas. It’s an obvious benchmark for customers and emphasizes the need to continue to communicate progress on repairs to their properties and make sure they understand what is being done and why.
From our perspective, we’re embarking on a six-month review, across our entire portfolio of flood claims, to establish what we’ve learned, what can be improved and to consider the changes that we could introduce, which would make the process that bit better for the customer in the future.
Progress in Cumbria
We already had a strong focus on SME customers and in light of the FCA’s Thematic Review, we’ve devoted substantially more time to managing the claims from this customer group. We’ve given them a personalised level of support, along similar lines to our household claims management service delivery.
Our Forensic Advisory Service (FAS) SME approach has been well received during the floods. Our accountants, working closely with our field adjusters, have collaborated to make sure that, where possible, SME customers have been able to continue trading, even if only partially, over the last six months. Commercial customers are seeing the benefit of this approach as repairs are completed and a return to full trading commences. Interim payments and assistance with business during this period will make the conclusion of the claim that much easier.
Household customers – our constant presence in the area, together with a robust programme of communications, as well as checks and measures on progress, has played an important part in maintaining customer satisfaction levels. We’re combining some of our flood zones, as strong progress is made in settling clams, but support will continue across all these areas, until the last claim is settled.
Across the Cumbria area – where most of the damage was caused by Storm Desmond in December last year – the majority of properties, where claims remain outstanding, are dry and reinstatement works have begun. Inevitably, there are exceptions.
As with any portfolio of claims, there are a few instances where progress, for a variety of reasons hasn’t been as swift as we would like. Works on a small percentage of properties are due to commence imminently, and a handful that are still in the drying process. This is due to a range of issues:
- The construction of the property – older buildings, perhaps stone built or similar – take longer to dry and, given the nature of these building materials, it’s extremely important that they are completely dry before repairs commence
- Many properties were flooded for several days and some were flooded three times in one month. It takes longer to dry out any building that’s been sitting in water for a lengthy period in time and, although the original flooding was in December, subsequent reflooding means that the timescales for drying have to be reconsidered
- In some cases, stubborn damp patches remain, or have returned, which could be due to other issues within the building, such as a failing damp proof course or a water leak. We need to be clear about these before commencing any reinstatement works
- In the case of terraced or semi-detached properties, there are various cases where a neighbour might be uninsured, or their home isn’t drying out as quickly as we would like, perhaps due to other damp issues, and this slows down the drying of the shared wall for our customer. We’re looking at ways to progress matters in these situations
We continue to monitor progress carefully on every single claim, making sure that the customer’s needs are front and foremost of every action that we take.
Save the Children
In the wake of the launch of Flood Re, Lancaster University issued a press release, supported by Save the Children, calling for insurance industry organisations to take more account of the needs of children and young people affected by flooding.
Following the 2015/16 series of storms and subsequent flooding, evidence is apparently emerging about the affect this has had on young people and how their experiences can help improve resilience. Lancaster University has produced a video, which can be viewed via: www.lancaster.ac.uk/floodrecovery
Unless there’s a weather event to report on, we’ll issue another progress update in two weeks time. If you would like more information, please contact your Client Director.