Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) has pledged to refund flood victims who have been charged up to 50p a minute for calls regarding their claims.

In the week that Sir Michael Pitt published his interim report on the summer floods, which cost the industry over £3bn, R&SA admitted that it had charged flood victims for calls to 070 numbers, following complaints from policyholders.

The revelation came as the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (Cila) began a campaign to offset criticism about flood victims still living in caravans for Christmas.

The insurer said the charges were a mistake, and it was now tracking down how many calls were made to the numbers.

John Wiles, an R&SA policyholder is waiting to see his phone bill to learn how much the calls would have cost him. He said: “I think it’s quite disgusting, but I had so much going on I just wanted to get through.”

Paul Hendy, flood recovery consultant and adviser for the city of Hull, said he has never before seen a case of flood victims having to pay to make calls to loss adjusters.

He said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. It’s the impact it has on policyholders having to pay again on top of everything else."

A spokesman for R&SA said the numbers were put in place as a security measure to protect in-house loss adjusters not wanting to give out their personal mobile numbers.

The number was given to policyholders as a way to contact their loss adjusters for advice or follow-up calls.

Not all of R&SA’s loss adjusters handed out the number, with some preferring to use their personal mobiles, the spokesman added.

The insurer said it had not profited from the calls.

The spokesman said: “It was a very honest mistake and we are making it right. We are refunding customers because this was an inconvenience to them and an oversight.

“The last thing we want is these customers to have something else to worry about.”

R&SA has now set up message centres in Peterborough and Bristol to help policyholders contact loss adjusters not wanting to give out their numbers.