Insurance concern for flood victims

PUBLISHED: 14:08 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:45 14 April 2010

FLOOD-hit residents are being stopped from boosting Ottery s local economy by some insurance companies according to the town s county councilor.

FLOOD-hit residents are being stopped from boosting Ottery's local economy by some insurance companies according to the town's county councilor.

Councillor Roger Giles said that for some affected residents, the chance to utilize local traders is proving "impossible" and they are being told they must use specified national companies, many of which are in Exeter.

Cllr Giles wrote to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in December after frustrated victims, wishing to use local businesses, approached him over the issue.

He said: "Apart from any other consideration some of my complainants are elderly, their cars were written off in October, and they find it difficult to get to Exeter.

"An example was Ottery people being told to go to Allied Carpets in Exeter, rather than to a carpet supplier in Ottery.

"Local people want to see the local economy - which was also badly hit - gain some benefit from the clean-up and repair works and sales of replacement of furniture and equipment.

"It seems to me quite wrong that insurance companies should stop people supporting Ottery's economy in this way."

Allan Millford has turned away five customers from his carpet business in Jesu Street in the last fortnight, and while the business has a strong local trade, he has been irked by the fact Ottregians choice is being stunted.

He said: "I don't want to complain about losing trade. The fact is people should be free to buy wherever they want and choose whatever deal they want.

"I've found if people force the issue they can go where they want to go but the fact is a lot of them are elderly and are accepting things they shouldn't. They (insurance companies) have got them over a barrel basically."

Mr Millford said the issue had only been a problem with a handful of insurance companies, a point echoed by town councilors at a meeting on Monday.

Mayor Glyn Dobson said that many flood victims he encountered had had actually been full of praise for their insurers.

Councillor George Hansford, whose Fairmile Lane farm was flooded in October, said he has been able to use local traders without any problems.

Tim Humphreys of the BIA said in some cases insurance companies and loss adjusters use their own service networks to "meet high service standards" and that some customers preferred not to organise repairs.

He added: "Most insurers will allow policyholders to employ their own builders, however the policyholder will then be responsible for the relationship with the builder and for ensuring that the work is carried out within a reasonable time and to a satisfactory standard.

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