Early response to storm damage key to prompt return to business as normal

Over the past week, thousands of policy holders will have been making efforts to determine whether they have grounds to make an insurance claim for the damage caused by Storm Ophelia

TOWNS and cities across Ireland came to a standstill last week as schools, colleges and many workplaces closed to escape the gusts brought by ex-Hurricane Ophelia, as the up to 100mph winds swept across the island.

The storm wreaked havoc on both sides of the border, leaving a path of destruction that included the partial collapse of a stand at Turners Cross stadium in Cork while a house in Broughshane was badly damaged by a falling tree.

The shutting down of business and education facilities is expected to have had a huge economic impact amounting to a loss of around £30 million to businesses in Northern Ireland, according to Ulster University economist Dr Esmond Birnie.

However, estimates of the cost in terms of insurance claims are much greater.

Trade body Insurance Ireland has put the cost of damage caused by the storm at around €800m (£715m) but that was for the Republic of Ireland alone, so the total figure is likely to be considerably higher.

Over the past week, thousands of affected policy holders will have been making efforts to determine whether they have grounds to make an insurance claim for the damage caused.

When the affected party is a business, those efforts will have been all the more crucial as they aim to repair, reinstate or replace damaged property as quickly as possible in a bid to ensure a prompt return to normal trading.

The process of picking through the wreckage and commencing the claims process can seem daunting but enlisting the help of experienced accident investigation services can relieve much of this stress.

By making contact early, these professional services can provide an immediate response and attend to all emergency repairs as a matter of urgency and liability acceptance secured with the relevant insurance in as timely a manner as possible to avoid delays.

They can also prepare and submit insurance claims on their client's behalf and continue to liaise with insurers throughout the process, to relieve the stress from businesses, and in order to secure a prompt and fair settlement.

Where appropriate, alternative office, factory, warehouse or other premises can be sought while interim payments to cover emergency funding, replacement plant and equipment, and re-stocking can also be negotiated.

Thankfully, major storms such as Ophelia are a rare occurrence in the UK and Ireland but for commercial policy holders, any disruption to services can have major impact.

Whatever the cause, or magnitude, of damage, it is important to seek professional help at the earliest opportunity, to allow for a prompt commencement of the claims management process, and return to business as usual.

:: Richard Willis is managing director at Willis Insurance and Risk Management

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