Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Big freeze led to £2m worth of insurance claims from farmers

The big freeze has led to massive damages claims from farmers.

The ice and snow caused farm buildings to collapse, wrecked pipes, water damage and in one case the destruction of a brand new milking facility.

The record plummeting temperatures and deep snow made 2010 the worst year yet for cold weather claims, according to rural insurer NFU Mutual.

The arctic weather blast in December resulted in almost 6,000 claims which are expected to cost the farm insurance firm more than £34m for damage to homes, farms and businesses.

In Northern Ireland, the company received 602 claims, amounting to £1.97m.

The worst affected areas for snow damage were the north east of Scotland and England, where snowfalls of more than two feet led to hundreds of farm building roofs collapsing under the weight.

NFU Mutual spokesman John Kenny said lessons had to be learned to improve the ability of roofs and water pipes to resist the effects of freezing weather.

He said: “Coupled with the |very cold spell in January 2010, December’s icy blast has made 2010 the worst year in our 100-year history for cold weather claims.

“Spending a day in Yorkshire visiting customers who had suffered the most serious damage I was struck by the sheer scale of destruction.

“The heavy snowfall caused a trail of collapsed buildings — including the catastrophic collapse of a brand new milking parlour.”

The visit was part of a review of the way the snow and ice claims had been dealt with.

“After a long run of mild winters, 2010 has been a reminder that snow can wreak tremendous damage,” Mr Kenny said.

“There are lessons to be learned — particularly about the construction of farm building roofs and the siting and insulation of water pipes.”

He recommended that farmers and homeowners with outbuildings make sure their buildings are covered for storm damage, as some people were not able to claim for damaged roofs because they had not taken out storm insurance.

“It’s also vitally important to bear in mind that even if outbuildings have little or no value, you can still face high costs for demolition — especially if they have asbestos cement roofs,” Mr Kenny said.

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