UK Insurers face storm bill of up to £500m

Insurers are facing the biggest UK storm-related loss in almost seven years with a forecast bill to the industry of as much as £500m.

As loss adjusters surveyed the damage of last month's storm, the broker Willis Re forecast losses in the UK alone of between £300m and £500m.

The storm struck heavily-populated parts of southern England and went on to hit northern France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.

Tim Edwards, an executive director at Willis reinsurance broking operation, said the time of year meant 'significant damage' arose during the latest storm because trees were heavily laden with leaves, making them more likely to fall.

Across the region it killed at least 15 people, shut down transport networks and caused widespread property damage.

Analysts said it was too early to provide a Europe-wide loss estimate. But the hit to insurers in the UK is expected to be the biggest arising from windstorm since Kyrill ripped through Europe in 2007.

It cost the industry across Europe about £3.6bn and UK insurers about £450m. Even so, the payouts should be manageable for buildings insurance companies.

Analysts highlighted that advances in weather forecasting allowed the public to prepare for its arrival, meaning the damage was lower than in previous storms. Mr Edwards said the losses were of a magnitude that would be expected to occur every three to five years.