Money: Act quickly to repair storm damage, householders told: Devastation is not on the scale of 1987. Nic Cicutti reports

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Householders whose property suffered in Wednesday night's high winds should act immediately to prevent further damage and not wait for an insurance inspection.

The advice came as insurers began to assess damage from the storm, which caused 10 deaths across the country. Gusts of wind reached speeds of up to 98mph in North Wales and 77mph in London, and insurers say the damage could have been a lot worse.

The Association of British Insurers compared the scale of likely damage to March 1986, when nationwide gales led to pounds 80m in claims at today's prices.

A spokesman for Royal Insurance said his company was expecting hundreds of claims rather than the thousands made during the October 1987 storms.

The mainly westerly wind had badly affected only one main population centre, Liverpool. Had the storm blown across the south-east coast, claims would have multiplied.

Ian Frater, a spokesman for Commercial Union, said his company had contacted all regional offices the next morning to assess the likely scale of claims. Early returns indicated the storm had affected relatively few people.

Mr Frater said householders affected should take immediate steps to avoid further damage, if necessary by having repairs carried out before a company representative comes to inspect.

'Nearly all major insurers have a hotline for policyholders to ring at times like this. They can obtain advice on steps to take in the event of major problems, such as roofs being blown off,' Mr Frater said.

'If people have difficulties in getting someone in to do the repairs because they are all booked up locally, we have lists of people in neighbouring towns who can be called on in an emergency.'

Householders should, however, keep all receipts. They should also check insurance policies carefully. For example, garden sheds and greenhouses are normally covered by policies, but fences are not.

An ABI spokeswoman added that, even if insured, householders had a duty to make sure their properties were kept in good order.

(Photograph omitted)

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