Experience in Somerset Flood claims

As I write this I’ve not long got back from a trip to Langport. A trip that usually takes an hour took double that time due to various roads being closed due to flooding…

This, of course, is on the back of the residents of the Somerset Levels having suffered with the consequences of flooding for over a month now at the time of writing.

As I fought my way around Somerset, I couldn’t help but think of all of those affected and one of the first things I did when I finally got back into the warm and dry was to send messages via Twitter and Facebook telling people I was available if they wanted some free, no-obligation, advice with regards to insurance claims. This was because I was conscious of the effect flooding had on a retail client of mine when I was employed by the local office of a national broker and, being fortunate at this stage to not have any Townley Insurance Brokers clients who had flooded, I wanted to help in any way I could.

The client I’m referring to flooded in late 2012. Most of their stock was destroyed and, as this was a family business where the owners lived on site, their home was also affected. I arrived that morning to find one of the family members, understandably, in tears.

But, I made plenty of phone calls and it wasn’t long before their insurer’s Loss Adjuster was on site. Not long after that he’d instructed a well-known Disaster Recovery company to come in and clean up.

The family made sensible decisions when it came to reinstating everything – they bought shelving that raised the stock higher off the floor and replaced carpet tiles in the cafe area with something that could easily be mopped if the worst were to happen again.

Which it did.

Not long before they were ready to re-open, they flooded again. There was less damage this time but it was still a nightmare for them. Nonetheless, they worked hard again and managed to reopen very soon after.

At each point the costs of reinstatement were covered without too much of a quibble. Fresh stock was bought, walls were repainted, floors re-laid.

But what about the interruption to their business?

This case was a prime example of how important Business Interruption cover is and also how it can be utilised in unexpected ways. You see, Business Interruption cover doesn’t just stop when the business re-opens. If you can prove that business continued to be affected even once you were back up and running then your claim for loss of gross profit or however else you have it arranged, can continue.

A continued loss looked likely in this case. It’s all well and good re-stocking the shelves and cleaning the place up but if there are no customers to come in and spend money when you re-open the doors then you will suffer financially.

My client asked me if the insurer would pay for a big advertisment in some of the local papers. I phoned a colleague back in the office and asked her to put it to them. She told me I was mad and that there was no chance they were going to pay an advertising bill well in excess of £2,000.

But they did. Once I was back in the office I put it to them myself that a big advertisment, letting all the loyal customers know that their favourite shop was back open for business, would result in a reduced claim for loss of gross profit ultimately. They agreed and, in fact, the clients had one of their best trading days ever!

So, when it comes to dealing with any claim, it’s always worth thinking outside of the box and there’s never any harm in asking the question, especially if you can state your case with a well-reasoned argument.

That’s what I consider to be the job of any good broker when a client suffers a claim and it’s that added value that’s worth thinking about when considering a direct insurer’s price.