The leader of Merton Council says he will be writing to the government in response to home insurers refusing to pay out claims to impacted residents

The leader of Merton Council, Ross Garrod, said that he will be holding insurers to account after a major gas explosion on Galpins Road, Thornton Heath left more than 200 residents homeless.

As reported in London World, the gas explosion incident –which occurred on 8 August 2022 at 7am – reduced a terraced house to rubble and killed four-year-old Sahara Salman, who was found buried a few hours later. 

Garrod believes that home insurers have let down Merton residents.

Speaking in a video posted on the Merton Council Twitter, dated 10 August 2022, Garrod said: “I am calling on insurers to fulfil their moral obligation and support our affected residents and, if they fail to do so, I will call them out.”

Gas explosions are listed as a peril – they are usually caused by a gas leak resulting in major structural damage to a property, although a standard homeowner’s insurance policy covers this.

Although Crawford and Company is not the loss adjusters handling these claims, David Damsell, its the head of the corporate and major incident team, told Insurance Times: “It doesn’t matter how you are insured, you can never replace a life or an injury. We can’t replace sentimentality, but we can look to replace physical items.”

Damsell explained that loss adjustors were typically deployed to investigate the cause of incdidents in these larger claims.

For Damsell, “getting under the skin of these claims” is key and to do this it is important to understand what the policyholder needs.

From 1 October 2022, new legislation will make it compulsory for landlords to provide carbon monoxide detectors for all rented properties in England to detect gas leaks in any room where there is a gas combustion appliance.

Honouring arrangements

Garrod said: “Numerous people have informed me that their insurers are refusing to support them. These companies are telling people in their greatest moment of need that they will not receive any financial assistance or else insurers are demanding eye-watering excess fees.”

The council has worked to support and rehouse 100’s of residents following the explosion, added Garrod. Since the incident the local community has also set up a GoFundMe page to support evacuated residents.

Garrod added: “I am almost lost for words that in a crisis of national interest – and in the midst of a community mourning the loss of a child – any company would seek to maximise profits by withholding coverage.

“I would like to reassure residents that the council is doing everything in its power to force these companies to honour their arrangements in these exceptional circumstances and to say that I am writing to the government with my concerns.”

Insurance Times has contacted a range of home insurers for comment.