Just over a month since Storm Ciaràn ripped through our island communities, the specialist team at Channel Islands Adjusters is reporting a 600% increase in new cases.
The Guernsey-based team of Loss Adjusters received six months’ worth of cases in just three weeks and are now helping hundreds of home and property owners, some of whom have seen their properties devastated by unprecedented levels of damage.
Loss Adjusting is a specialist area within the insurance industry and a key link between the insurer and the policyholder in large or complex claims. Channel Islands Adjusters is the only locally based business of its type in the Channel Islands and the field adjusting team of Richard Headington, Josh Smith and Ellie Smith have spent much of their time between the islands in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Managing Director, Richard Headington (pictured), said this in itself has proven a test: “At a time of the year when daylight is not on our side, one of the immediate challenges has been physically assessing damage across all the islands. It has certainly meant some long days for the team, but we have visited 95% of cases within days of taking their case and have issued reports to insurers on 90% of the Storm Ciaran cases.”
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, which battered the Channel Islands at the beginning of November, the team visited every type of building imaginable from a donkey shelter, pig sty, and warehouse to large estates, listed buildings, farms, schools, stables and garages. Richard says it was a shocking level of damage, even for a seasoned professional.
Richard continued: “Having more than 36 years’ experience in this profession, I have dealt with some very major fire, flood and water damage claims. However, I don’t think much could beat the damage a tornado force wind is capable of wreaking. When I arrived at one property in Jersey to find the entire roof ripped off and everything inside destroyed, it truly took my breath away. The level of devastation we’ve seen is unprecedented in my career to date.”
Throughout the past few weeks, it is the company’s team and their technology which has carried Channel Islands Adjusters through this intense time.
Finance Director Julie-anne Headington said: “Our company motto is ‘Because…it happens’ and the last few weeks have been testament to just how unpredictable life can be. Tracy, our operations manager, has been integral in collating all the information to ensure that claims are logged, policyholders contacted and claims progressed. Thankfully, our amazing team of professionals are trained to tackle intense periods, backed up with a technology and administration system we designed ourselves, which helps us all get through the long days.”
The challenge now is remedying the damage and finding alternative accommodation for those who need it, both of which are difficult tasks in islands with finite resources.
Richard said this is one of the benefits of the company’s local expertise: “Being a company born and bred in the Channel Islands allows us to truly understand the unique landscape. The communities in all our islands pulled together fantastically, but the next challenge is securing trades such as scaffolders and roofers, who are in short supply.”
The company is hopeful that repairs in Guernsey will be complete within six to nine months but expect that it could take longer in Alderney and Sark, where the challenge of transporting materials becomes more difficult. When it comes to Jersey, the team expects some people will be out of their homes for between 18 months and two years.
The company has the following advice and observations going forward:
- If your property has suffered damage because of Storm Ciaran or another weather event, take pictures and advise your insurers as soon as possible. Then do all you can to make the property wind and watertight to prevent further damage.
- Be aware of weakened structures. You may have been relieved to see trees, walls, fences and buildings still standing after the storm. However, the structural integrity of any of these could have been impacted and they may not survive another battering.
- Expect insurance premiums to rise in the aftermath of Storm Ciaràn. This was the worst major weather event our part of the British Isles has experienced for several decades, and the impact will be felt across the insurance industry.
- Don’t consider skipping insurance. The cost of living crisis has hit everyone hard, but insurance in today’s climate is a must for all property owners. The test of your insurance policy and insurance provider is when a major disaster such as Storm Ciaràn occurs. In the vast majority of cases we have seen, the insurance policies will cover the storm damage, and insurers will fund the reasonable cost of the repairs required.