Flood claimants hit out at poor service and delays a year after disaster

The insurance industry has been slammed for its handling of thousands of claims in the flood-stricken town of Carlisle.

According to Community Reunited, a local community group which represents families affected by the floods, 50% of claimants are still waiting to finalise their claims nearly one year after the disaster.

It also claimed that policyholders had received in some cases "appalling" service from insurance companies and their contractors, including poor standards of work and continued delays (see box).

Many people who expected to return to their homes by September would not be able to do so until next year, it said.

Paul Hendy, Community Reunited project co-ordinator, said: "People perceive it is the insurance companies' problem because they bring in the builders. The services delivered have been appalling."

According to an opinion poll of policyholders by Community Reunited, Lloyds TSB ranked as the best insurer, followed by Norwich Union, AXA, Halifax and Prudential.

Lloyds TSB finalised its last claim in October. But Ian Jones, its technical claims manager, expressed surprise after visiting the region this week: "We are coming up to the anniversary and work has not even begun on some properties."

Martyn Foulds, Halifax home insurance senior claims manager, said: "To our knowledge, we have no outstanding customer complaints in Carlisle.

"Over 80% of our customers impacted by the floods are back in their homes."

Hundreds of people were left homeless and nearly 3,000 properties were flooded in January, costing insurers tens of millions of pounds.

Failures at Carlisle

  • Poor standard of materials and work from contractors
  • Quality of replacement items worse than the original
  • Completion dates being continually set back
  • Insurance companies withdrawing funding for alternative accommodation
  • Building companies charging high prices for cheap goods