Myself and all the Crawford Agriculture team have been working round the clock in response to last week’s dam collapse at Whaley Bridge - a small rural town in the Peak District, England. While there are still many unknowns and uncertainties on the loss adjusting side, our initial focus has been to offer reassurance and build a support and response network for those affected.
This has meant working closely with the local insurers, brokers and many of the residents and businesses in the area, as well as partners from across the Crawford network including our surveyors in Crawford Building Consultancy, our managed repair network Contractor Connection, and external restoration companies.
Our objective is to ensure the right framework is in place to restore affected customers’ lives and businesses and minimize disruption if the situation worsens. We have already met with several claimants, answered many queries over policy wordings and extent of cover, and attended resident meetings to keep our finger on the pulse of the issues the community faces and provide assurances and information where possible.
The insurance loss
Over the coming weeks, we will see a large number of residential and commercial claims.
The entirety of Whaley Bridge and its surroundings was cordoned off and inaccessible to the public for over a week, though residents from the evacuation zone are now returning to their homes. Domestic residents were given a 15-minute window to retrieve vital belongings, but businesses were not.
Several homes in the evacuation zone have been flooded, and domestic claims will vary from loss of freezer food up to major water damage. There are also unconfirmed rumors of a small number of break-ins.
Numerous businesses are currently unable to trade, which for larger industrial firms could result in business interruption losses of up to £10,000 per day. Some insurers have provided guidance to their customers on extent of cover under its policies, though those insured by other companies may find that they are not covered under standard policy wordings as they have not been physically damaged by the flood - and must instead rely on extensions such as ‘denial of access’ to benefit from cover.
The farming community has not been affected too badly, as the majority of farms in the region are on higher ground and not arable. However, we have already seen several claims for damaged machinery and many pathways have been disturbed or washed away by the floodwater.
A dam collapse is unprecedented in this area. No one was sure if the dam would completely collapse or how extensive the flooding would be. However, we were reassured that if the dam was to go, the water would stop at Stockport. At the time of writing, water at the dam had receded to the target level of 8.4 meters.
An incident of this nature has many moving parts, each moving at different rates. Lack of access to the evacuation zone is a key challenge, as is miscommunication, with information from the media often contradicting that released by the emergency services. A heavy media presence can also complicate the response effort, though it does provide extensive aerial TV coverage of the affected area, meaning Crawford has not needed to deploy surveillance drones on this occasion.
Now that access has been granted, the loss adjusting can begin in earnest. And it continues to be a case of ‘all hands on deck’, with Crawford mobilizing teams with a broad range of skills to provide customers with reassurance and support any time, day or night.