Storm set to cost UK insurers pounds 2m

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The Independent Online
BRITISH INSURANCE companies are bracing themselves for the highest single pay-out for weather-related claims since 1990 - an estimated pounds 2m - from damage caused to property by the Christmas storm.

Mark Bishop, of Cornhill Insurance, said there will be large claims for roof and chimney damage, although most of the bad weather on Boxing Day had hit "waste land".

Five people died and thousands of homes were left without electricity when 110mph winds lashed the north-west.

Nearly 100,000 homes were affected in Scotland. Some 5,000 homes in remote rural areas remained without power last night. In the Irish Republic, about 25,000 homes were still without power.

Road and rail networks were also affected.

Householders across Britain are likely to pay a price for the wild conditions. It is estimated that insurance claims will now total pounds 800m for 1998, just under a third more than in the previous year. This is also due to winter storms and two periods of severe flooding.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: "This has been a particularly bad-weather year as far as we are concerned."

The poor weather is likely to continue, affecting New Year celebrations, the Met Office said. A spokesperson said: "I don't think we'll see winds quite as strong as we saw in Scotland and Ireland but the weather remains unsettled." The west is likely to be affected by strong winds and driving rains.