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Big freeze cost insurers €224m

Insurers paid out €224m to homeowners and businesses hit by last December's big freeze.

Most damage was done by burst pipes, with firms facing a total of 30,000 claims and Cork, Dublin and Galway the worst affected areas.

The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) said it was the third major weather event to hit Ireland and cause an influx of claims in a 14 month period.

Mike Kemp, IIF chief executive, said the scale of damage should not be underestimated.

"Severe weather events such as these have been very rare events in the past in Ireland," he said.

"To have had the three largest weather-related losses in our history in such close succession has put pressure on the market, but insurers have repeatedly displayed their resilience and as a result have injected three-quarters of a billion euro back into the Irish economy in a 14-month period.

"To put the extent of this payout in context, the cost for severe weather events for the past 10 years before the November 2009 floods amounted to €358m, or less than half the cost of the three most recent events."

The IIF said household claims cost €173.1m and commercial €50.6m as new records were reached and Co Mayo was the lowest at -17.5C.

Cork was the most expensive costing €32.4m, then Galway at €24.7m and Dublin at €20.2m.

The IIF also said some regions were disproportionately affected by the bad weather. Munster accounts for 28pc of the population but made up about 40pc of the claims cost, while Leinster is home to 54pc of the population but only accounted for 32pc of the claims cost.

The IIF also detailed how the December freeze last year compared to other bad weather events in the past few years.

The pre-Christmas chill was about €70m less costly than similar weather in January 2010 when claims totalled €297m.

Floods which left huge swathes of land under water in the west and south in November 2009 were also more expensive, costing insurers €244m.

Other big events such as storms in January 2009 cost €16m and freezing weather the same month cost €40m.

PA Media