Damage managers criticise university's Lloyds TSB-sponsored report

A controversial report on flooding and building reinstatement work has sparked a row between the damage management community, traditional loss adjusters and Lloyds TSB Insurance.

The University of Wolverhampton (UoW) research has been criticised by the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) as not being truly independent.

The report questions whether repair work on flood-damaged properties is either "excessive or inadequate".

The BDMA said in a recent newsletter: "Reinstatement of properties, after flood damage, has become very big business and there is money to be made.

"Attempts to kill this golden goose are not welcome and suggestions that expenditure could be reduced, by using enhanced recovery methods or analysing how damage is assessed, do not always go down well."

Since this was published, individuals close to the research have gone further, accusing loss adjusters and the research sponsor, Lloyds TSB Insurance, of putting pressure on report author Dr John Nicholas.

They said: "There are a number of loss adjusters and insurers, including Lloyds TSB, that do not want to see the building reinstatement market curtailed. It is a cash cow for them worth millions of pounds a year."

David Proverbs of the UoW's Built Environment Research Unit, and co-author of the report with Dr Nicholas, refuted this claim. "Lloyds TSB has commissioned the report and has not put undue pressure on us."

A Lloyds TSB Insurance spokeswoman said the company commissioned the research after identifying complex and frustrating problems facing flood-affected regions.

"When a street is flooded, different insurers, loss adjusters and damage recovery companies are called in. This doesn't help the industry put together a coherent strategy to help homeowners and promote a service benchmark ."

She denied the insurer had influenced the report. "Naturally we wouldn't be happy if we were criticised, but as long as the research is comprehensive and fair, we will have to adhere to its findings."