GAB Robins and Cunningham Lindsey investigate subrogation possibilities

The wrangling over last year’s floods in Cockermouth, Cumbria has continued, with insurers considering legal action to claim back some of the estimated £200m they have paid out in claims.

AXA, which was worst hit by the floods claims, and Aviva are among the insurers assessing how much money they could get back on claims they have paid out, under a process known as subrogation.

Loss adjusters GAB Robins and Cunningham Lindsey have written a joint report outlining the possibilities.

The report examines the merit of allegations made by a local law firm, AJ Commons.

AJ Commons claims that a utilities company, United Utilities, failed to effectively control the level of water in the nearby Thirlmere reservoir.

Cockermouth suffered a severe amount of rainfall in a short space of time, which flooded the town and surrounding areas in November last year, costing insurers more than £200m, according to ABI estimates.

AXA claims director David Williams said he would wait and see how the situation develops, in terms of other insurers pursuing a recovery.

Williams said: “I think it is right and proper that we have to fully investigate any possible recovery, and I know there have been a couple of things that have been talked about that certainly might suggest other people’s reactions were a contributing factor.”

A United Utilities spokesman stressed there was no emergency release of water from Thirlmere, adding: “The flooding in Cumbria during November was caused by an exceptional rainfall event, not the management of Thirlmere reservoir.

The reservoir has always been, and continues to be, managed in consultation with local stakeholders, including Keswick Flood Action Group.”

GAB casualty manager Kim Alcock said: “It is quite early days in terms of pursuing a recovery. We’ve not had any firm decisions from any of our principals as yet.” Speaking of the joint report by Cunningham Lindsey, Alcock said: “In light of the Pitt report into previous flooding, the whole idea is that insurers should work more closely together on all of these things. So we thought it made sense to work together and put together a joint report.”

No one from Aviva was available to comment.

Read our feature: Bridge over troubled waters