Hail? What hail?

IT was the worst hailstorm to hit Ipswich in 18 years.Hail stones the size of golf balls pelted the town, smashing through conservatory roofs and tearing through trees and gardens.

IT was the worst hailstorm to hit Ipswich in 18 years.

Hail stones the size of golf balls pelted the town, smashing through conservatory roofs and tearing through trees and gardens.

The havoc caused by the June 29 storm was so bad the Association of British Insurers said the final damage bill could total hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Despite all this, one Ipswich woman has seen her claim for repairs drag on because an insurance company employee told her there was no hail in Ipswich that day.


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Lorraine Pryke, of Crowland Close, was so shocked by the insistence of Halifax Home Insurance that there was no hailstorm that she asked the staff member to repeat it THREE times.

The mother of two said: “I was livid. For them to say it did not happen - I couldn't believe it.”

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Hail stones smashed up to 30 holes through the roof of the conservatory at Mrs Pryke's Stoke Park house and caused severe damage to her husband Robert's carefully tended garden.

So when the couple submitted the claim for £1,556 damage to the conservatory - just their third claim in 25 years using Halifax - they assumed the claim would be trouble-free.

When The Evening Star contacted the company a spokesman insisted the claim had not been rejected - but that is not what an employee told Mrs Pryke earlier the same day.

Mrs Pryke, a wine shop manager, said: “I phoned them up last week after sending off two quotes. They said they had the quotes and they were going with the cheaper one. They said they would send a cheque.

“Then when I rang them up again they said the claim had been voided. The person I spoke to said the Met Office said there was no hail in Ipswich on that day.”

The Met Office provides a weather service called GeoProof to insurance companies to help them assess the veracity of insurance claims related to weather conditions.

The system shows that on June 29 there was “intense” lightning around Ipswich and conditions were right for thunderstorms and heavy hail.

Halifax today refused to provide details about its use of Met Office data, insisting it was “competitor sensitive information”, but it apologised for any confusion over the claim.

The Halifax spokeswoman said: “This claim has never been declined. One of our claims consultants has already been in touch with Mrs Pryke and has organised a visit with her next week at her convenience to assess the damage to her property.

“Our claims consultant will support Mrs Pryke through the claims process.”

That news was welcomed by Mrs Pryke but she remained disappointed with the difficulty in getting the company to pay out.

She said: “We're not out to make money out of it, we just want our roof restored to what it was before. It's not even cheap insurance.”

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