The trade association said it would continue to monitor any developments and reiterated that insurers would continue to do everything they can to assist impacted residents

The ABI has responded to what it called “misleading comments” about the fallout following the Thornton Heath gas explosion via a letter to Merton Council.

The explosion on 8 August 2022 – which was caused by a gas leak – reduced a terraced house to rubble, crushed four-year-old Sahara Salman to death and left more than 200 local residents homeless.

The letter – dated 17 August 2022 – from the ABI to Ross Garrod, the leader of Merton Council, was sent to clarify any misunderstanding about insurance coverage typically provided by alternative temporary accommodation and lay out how ABI member companies are helping those affected.

Garrod had vowed to hold insurers accountable after the explosion in a video posted on Twitter (10 August 2022). In the video, he explained that residents had reported that insurers were not paying out for claims, despite gas explosions being recognised as a peril in a standard home insurance policy.

Above and beyond policy coverage

The ABI explained that its member insurance companies were “going above and beyond policy coverage to provide support for those affected” by the Thornton Heath explosion.

Its letter explained: “Insurers’ first priority is to support their customers who have been affected. For those customers whose properties have been directly damaged by the explosion, the provision of alternative accommodation is standard in most home insurance policies.

“Since the explosion, insurers have been pro-actively contacting their customers in the neighbourhood who may have been affected.

“Where policyholders have suffered damage to their homes, alternative accommodation has been provided and – in many cases – where property damage has not occurred, insurers have chosen to go beyond the terms of a policy and provide alternative accommodation and cash payments as goodwill.

“In the immediate aftermath of events like this, emergency accommodation for people evacuated as a precaution on public safety grounds is the responsibility of the local authority.”

An Admiral spokesperson told Insurance Times: ”We communicated to all our agents that if any customers contacted us to say they were evacuated from their home due to the explosion in Thornton Heath, they would be covered for emergency accommodation until they are able to move back home.

”We also contacted customers that we identified as living in the area to check with them to see if they required our assistance.”

The ABI said it would continue to monitor any developments and reiterated that insurers would continue to do everything they could to assist impacted residents.

  • Insurance Times has contacted a range of home insurers and Merton Council for further comment following the incident