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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Insurance costs will soar after city deluge

Laura Noonan and Aideen Sheehan

THE cost of insuring homes and businesses is set to soar again as this week's devastating floods prompt a fresh wave of insurance claims.

Senior insurance industry figures last night said it would be "weeks" before they knew if the costs of this week's events would be as high as the €244m cost of flooding back in 2009.

But several senior managers confirmed that the premiums would "inevitably" rise as a result of the latest extreme weather event, which follows the €500m cost of last year's freezes.

The latest floods look set to be particularly expensive since the worst affected area was Dublin, which has the highest concentration of commercial buildings and houses.

A claim for Dundrum Town Centre alone will cost "millions and millions" one source, said. As well as paying for damage to the centre itself, insurers must also pick up the tab for damaged stock and lost trade.

The centre's insurers include RSA and Allianz but almost every insurer in Ireland is believed to have some exposure to the Town Centre, since individual shops also have their own policies.

Homeowners

Insurers said claims from homeowners had already begun yesterday, and far more were expected over the coming days.

Irish Insurance Federation boss Mike Kemp said it was "impossible" to know how much the floods would cost or how much insurance premiums would rise.

Mr Kemp dismissed suggestions that premiums would not have to rise because the floods were described as a "one in 100 years" event, making them unlikely to be repeated.

"I don't know who's in a position to say it's a one in 100 year event," he said. "We were hoping the snow was a one in 100 year event and it happened again."

Unlike previous floods, where premium rises have largely affected those on flood plain or exposed areas, these rises are likely to hit all policyholders.

"The deluge did the damage rather than the flow of water," Mr Kemp said.

The main piece of advice to homeowners was to contact their insurers as soon as possible to report damage and get it assessed.

The AA said that as well as the backlog of stalled cars from Monday night, there had been a further surge of cars breaking down and refusing to start yesterday morning.

They warned that some motorists had done permanent damage to their engines by driving through flood water, as even an eggcup full in the combustion chamber could wreck it, while the electrical system and locks were also vulnerable.

They warned drivers who had driven through deep floodwater to get a qualified technician to check the engine was safe, and said that if the oil levels appeared too high, there might be water in the engine, meaning it should not be started.

The impact of the flood on retailers was "biblical" coming on top of the worst sales figures ever last quarter, said David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland.

Irish Independent

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