Wednesday 18 September 2019

Fears that insurers will hike premiums as Storm Ophelia damage claims to hit €800m

  • 150,000 people without broadband, telephone and mobile services
  • 137,000 now without power as ESB crews work around the clock
  • 48,000 without water
  • Householders asked to conserve water
  • All primary and secondary schools will open today
  • Tributes paid to the three victims of Ophelia
  • Luas resumes ahead of schedule
Elsa (7) and Tom (5) Dollard walk their dog on Centre Park Road in Cork after Hurricane
Ophelia. Photo: Mark Condren
Elsa (7) and Tom (5) Dollard walk their dog on Centre Park Road in Cork after Hurricane Ophelia. Photo: Mark Condren
Cork was among the counties worst affected by Storm Ophelia (Picture: Mark Condren)
Northbrook Road, Ranelagh Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Tree Surgeons take dawn a fallen Tree on Northbrook Road Ranelagh .
Northbrook Road, Ranelagh Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Northbrook Road, Ranelagh Photo: Kyran O'Brien
A fallen tree blocks the R292 at Culleenamore, Strandhill, Co. Sligo. Photo: James Connolly
Locals cut up and clear a fallen tree which had been blocking the road for most of the day on the Leixlip Road, near the Salmon Leap Inn this evening after Hurricane Ophelia Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Tributes have been paid to three victims who lost their lives in Storm Ophelia related incidents: Fintan Goss, Michael Pyke and Clare O’Neill
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Insurance companies have been warned not to hike premiums to make up for the cost of multi-million euro claims due to Hurricane Ophelia.

It comes as insurers refused to rule out rising premium rates to fund claims.

Deputy chairman of the Consumers' Association Michael Kilcoyne said there was no justification for rises in the cost of home and business cover.

"There are a whole lot of years when there are very few claims from householders and businesses. People pay insurance for events like this.

"That day has now arrived, so consumers and businesses should not have to pay on the double," Mr Kilcoyne said.

He said the insurance industry had levied the cost of its losses on motor cover on to drivers.

Insurance Ireland said it was too early to assess whether premiums will rise after claims made on the back of the storm, but the organisation failed to rule out a rise.

Head of the insurance representative body Kevin Thompson insisted the industry had been able to cope with losses in the past and would be able to do so now.

"Insurance companies have been gearing up for this. They are prepared," he said.

Mr Thompson said some of the losses would be covered by re-insurance arrangements that have been put in place by the industry.

He also denied homeowners and businesses would be blacklisted by not being able to get cover in future if they made a claim.

"There is no blacklisting in relation to insured events," Mr Thompson said on RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland'.

Insurance companies were accused of refusing to renew the cover of households and businesses hit by flooding in the north-east in August.

Experts have estimated the Ophelia claims at between €500m and €800m, according to analysts at Merrion Stockbrokers.

Even the lower figure would make it the most expensive weather event for insurers.

Insurance Ireland said it would take a while before insurers would be in a position to start assessing damage and how much of that is likely to end up in claims costs.

"We won't know for a couple of weeks yet in terms of what the actual insured losses will be, until the claims start coming through.

"The industry has a good track record in being able to pay claims and sustain such losses," Mr Thompson said.

He said business insurance policies will cover storm damage to premises and stock, they will also cover business interruption if it has been triggered by storm damage.

"In relation to household insurance, household buildings and contents insurance policies will cover damage caused by storms and insurers will usually pay for costs of alternative accommodation if your home has become uninhabitable as a result of the storm," he said.

Managing director of insurance brokerages and Jonathan Hehir warned that premiums on home insurance, in particular, may rise if there is a high cost of claims.

"If there are a lot of claims that potentially could see premiums going up, especially on the household side," he said.

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon said "while it is too soon to give an estimate of the ultimate net cost of the storm to FBD, unfortunately given its severity, we can be sure that a number of our customers are affected".

Irish Independent

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