Cold spell claims rejected by many insurers
Published 17/12/2010 | 05:00
THOUSANDS of homeowners could have claims for damage from the recent cold snap rejected, loss assessors have warned.
Balcombes Claims Management, which takes cases for consumers, said it had already heard from a number of people whose claims for snow damage were being turned down on the basis that they could not be considered storm damage.
This included people who were facing bills of €1,000 to replace broken gutters, while in another case a company was facing a €100,000 bill to replace the roof of a commercial building that had collapsed under snow.
However, the Irish Insurance Federation said that companies were generally paying out for damage caused by the weight of snow on gutters or roofs.
"I have sounded out insurers and it appears they are paying out for this type of claim," said IIF Non-Life Manager Michael Horan.
"There might be some policies where that kind of damage was not covered, but in general they seemed to be," he said.
The bill for damage caused by the cold spell would be well below the €300m payout for last winter's big freeze, he added.
Although the icy spell had been more prolonged than that in January, the fact that fewer people were away from their homes meant damage from burst pipes had not been so severe.
"The previous cold spell happened at exactly the wrong time because a lot of people were away, but this time it happened when people were at home, children were at school and it was well flagged in advance, so that all helped," said Mr Horan.
However, the final price tag would not be known for some time as claims were still coming in and being considered.
Balcombes said that evidence so far suggested some companies were paying out for damage to gutters and roofs and others weren't.
They urged people to check if they had accidental damage cover on their policies which they believed should cover their losses.
There had been a lot of cases of gutters breaking under the weight of snow and ice, while a lot of damage had also been caused by snow sliding off roofs onto conservatories.
Balcombes said that as experienced loss assessors they could take cases for consumers working for a percentage of any award received.