Firms face big insurance payout

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds could have to be paid out in insurance claims after Wednesday's freak hailstorm, experts said today.As workmen raced to repair the damage caused by the hailstones which battered parts of the town and neighbouring villages, the Association of British Insurers warned the total damage bill could climb well into six figures.

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds could have to be paid out in insurance claims after Wednesday's freak hailstorm, experts said today.

As workmen raced to repair the damage caused by the hailstones which battered parts of the town and neighbouring villages, the Association of British Insurers warned the total damage bill could climb well into six figures.

The association's Malcolm Tarling said: "Badly affected businesses can take weeks or months to dry out. During that time some may have to seek alternative accommodation.

"Storms of this nature can cost hundreds of thousands or millions."


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Insurance companies have been inundated with calls from homeowners whose property sustained damage in Wednesday's storms, while building suppliers have been put on alert that the repair operation is likely to place extra demands on them.

In Ipswich some businesses lost power and were forced to shut when first hailstones, then heavy rain poured through damaged roofs and ceilings onto staff, customers and stock below.

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A number of stores, including Toys R Us at the Copdock Interchange and Brantano Footwear at Suffolk Retail Park, were without power through Wednesday night and into yesterday . Both suffered stock damage and were forced to stay closed to customers until yesterday afternoon.

Karren Joslin-White, manager at Brantano Footwear, said: "As the hailstones came down all of a sudden there was just a great downpour at the back of the shop.

"A great big ice block had got stuck in the guttering so the water was building up on the roof. Then it came into the ceiling and down into the store.

"Everybody in the retail park has had quite a lot of damage. There was about four inches of water in the back of the shop."

Workmen yesterday replaced about 100 ceiling tiles that had been damaged by the deluge of water entering the store.

Ms Joslin-White, 34, said the store's damage bill would run into the thousands.

At Toys R Us the total cost of the storm is still being worked out but the company's Mike Coogan said there had been "an awful lot of damage".

He said: "The hailstones broke through a sky light. We had gallons of water coming through the store."

Insurance giant AXA alone has received between 40 and 50 calls from policy holders reporting damage.

Christine Matthews, a personal property claims manager for the company, said most claims had been for damage to conservatories as well as a few flat roofs. She said more calls were expected in coming days.

AS homeowners begin the task of repairing their properties after the devastating hailstorm Ipswich Borough Council is also counting the cost of the extreme weather.

Wednesday's storms damaged Ipswich Town Hall, which is under renovation, but the full cost of the repair work is not yet known.

A council spokesman said: "We are currently assessing the situation with the contractors to find out the extent of the damage. It could run into the thousands of pounds."

Hailstones also severely damaged the roofs of four of the council's five warehouses in Portman Walk. Work to repair the buildings could take weeks.

Meanwhile, the hailstones and heavy rain even managed to put a dampener on Andy Williams' Ipswich concert.

The extreme weather led to a water leak in the backstage area of The Regent theatre as the legendary singer prepared to go on stage.

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