The year 2000's disastrous floods resulted in a doubling of the number of river and drain-related claims handled by Munters.

Newly-released figures from the property restoration company show that flood damage claims surged from 23% of total claims in 1999 to 47% last year.

The 47% figure is derived from the addition of damage claims arising from storms (33%) and those from river floods (14%). Munters said this was because most storm claims were in fact flood-related.

River and flood claims accounted for only 5% of Munters' claims workload in 1998.

Munters customer relations manager Denice Honour said the company blamed global warming for the increase in flood claims.

She said: “All our worst predictions about the effects of global warming were realised last year, with higher rainfalls and heavier downpours leading to both flash and persistent flooding.”

The peak period for flood claims was over the Christmas holiday period when they accounted for almost

50% of all property damage claims, although burst pipes were also a factor.

Honour said the fact that weather-related claims had affected many parts of the country and had underlined

the need for national coverage in terms of loss adjusting and claims handling services.

The recent dramatic floods have also illustrated the importance of contingency planning by insurance and damage restoration companies, she added.