Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Cold snap damage bill tops £1bn

The cold snap caused chaos across Britain
Temperatures plunged across the country in December 2010
The wintry weather hit Christmas shoppers, with stores reporting a fall in sales

The coldest December on record caused more than £1 billion of damage to property and vehicles, as frozen water pipes burst and cars crashed on icy roads, insurers have revealed.

The Arctic snap not only brought the economy to a grinding halt but also caused £38 million of insurance claims a day, according to new figures released by trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Insurers received a total of £1.4 billion of claims during December, more than double the £650 million of claims relating to the snowy weather the previous year. The amount of damage caused was so high because of the severity of the weather which engulfed nearly all the country for an extended period of time, said the ABI.

Insurers dealt with £900 million of property claims during the month - the highest ever caused by a cold snap.

Scotland, which was subjected to particularly cold conditions with temperatures dropping as low as minus 20C in some parts, reported £90 million of damage to property.

Burst pipes caused more damage than any other problem and were responsible for £680 million of claims, which was 35% more than in the whole of the previous winter. There were more than 100,000 incidents of problems with pipes, which caused an average of between £6,500 and £7,200 of damage.

More than a quarter of a million vehicles were damaged as icy conditions made the roads dangerous and helped cause £530 million of damage.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health, said: "Insurers always respond quickly to the large numbers of claims that often follow from bad weather and helped thousands of customers get through a very tough December. The big freeze highlighted that when bad weather strikes there's no substitute for insurance."

A spokesman said there was no evidence that premiums had gone up as a result of the cold weather but said insurers always look at the cost of claims when setting prices.

December's cold weather caused widespread disruption and helped to force the economy into a surprise 0.5% contraction in the final quarter of 2010. Economists estimate that GDP would have been flat if not for the impact of the weather, which created havoc with travel and kept people from work.

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