Damage to 27,000 homes and 5,000 businesses

The ABI estimates that 27,000 homes and 5,000 businesses have been affected by the recent floods and storms. The cost of claims is expected to reach £1bn.

This figure could rise if more properties are affected by further flooding.

Stephen Haddrill, ABI director general, said: “Insurers are working as hard as possible to reach customers and to visit properties early. But these events are so widespread that insurers are redeploying staff to affected areas, increasing staffing levels in call centres and undertaking visits to community centres.

"However, even emergency procedures cannot deliver our normal standards of service.

"We are doing all we can to help families, elderly customers and those with health difficulties first. We hope that other people can bear with us as we work through the backlog. We will reach everyone as soon as we can.

”We are keeping the government informed of the situation and requesting meetings with the relevant members of the new Cabinet.”

The ABI added that insurance companies had put into place their crisis action plans, were redeploying staff from around the country and were bringing in additional equipment from abroad.

Extra staff were contacting customers by phone wherever possible and visiting community centres to identify customers who had been evacuated.

The ABI said that vulnerable customers - the elderly, families and those with health problems - were being prioritised. Clean up operations were underway where flood waters had receded.

However, the scale of the problem is enormous and despite putting in place streamlined measures, the industry's normal response times would not be possible in all cases.