Charity accuses insurance industry of bullying tactics

A CRUSADING figure in the St Vincent de Paul has accused the insurance industry of failing and – in some cases – bullying victims of last November’s flood in Cork.

The society’s regional president Brendan Dempsey saidcertain cases are being investigated where it appearedpeople were pressured into accepting settlements which fell far short of what was required to repair flood damage.

He cited one case where an individual was left €90,000 short by their insurance company.

The matter is the subject of an investigation by an independent assessor, Mr Dempsey said.

“I was very slow off the mark last November. I didn’t realise the damage was as severe as it was,” he admitted.

“But once we got a handle on it, we felt the insurance would cover it. Insurance will not cover it.

“The companies are offering half or up to two thirds of what builders require to fix the damage.”

And he said he is extremely concerned about the emerging mould and fungus issue.

“I have others coming to me with the same problem. Insurance companies won’t touch this problem because it’s too expensive.

“My problem is this: if this becomes a mini epidemic as appears to be happening, where do we stand?

“People just won’t be able to afford to get the work done. And this poses a serious health risk to some people.”

He said the society is still providing help and support to some 80 victims of the flood.

Over the last 10 months, some €320,000 has been distributed by the Flood Committee set up by former Lord Mayor Dara Murphy to coordinate relief.

“We got €120,000 from the public into the Lord Mayor’s fund and we spent that,” Mr Dempsey pointed out.

“The society put another €100,000 and I’ve just got another €100,000 from our headquarters in Dublin to help people. It will go nowhere near the amount that’s needed.

“But we’re not short of money. We’re short of help. Our members are under huge stress.”

Mr Murphy also cited figures from May which showed the city’s flood victims received just €313,000 of the Government’s €10 million national flood relief fund.

Each of the city’s 483 applicants received an average pay-out of just €648 – almost half the average €1,055 pay-out to applicants in Galway.

“This situation is being compounded by a lack of responsibility and accountability on the part of the ESB and the insurance industry, which I believe has minimised its exposure,” he said.

Total property insurance claims in Cork due to the flooding topped almost €141 million.


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