Insurance claims among highest in Scotland

Shed collapses
Shed collapses

ALTHOUGH the snow is now disappearing throughout Berwickshire, the repercussions of the harshest winter for years will be felt for some time yet, particularly by those in the agricultural inustry.

NFU Mutual Insurance Society, the UK’s largest rural insurance company, confirmed this week that they have received 64 claims from farmers in the Berwickshire area after many farm buildings were damaged due to the sheer amount of snow that took everyone by surprise at the end of November.

The sharp rise in claims from November 29 to the turn of the year, coupled with the £25 million paid out by NFU Mutual, for those with collapsed roofs last January and February made 2010 the worst year for winter claims in the company’s 100 year existance.

Tim Price of NFU Mutual said he was unable to put a figure on just how much money the 64 Berwickshire claims amount to, but he said one Scottish claim topped the million pound mark.

Duns NFU rep Vicki Carmichael said that although the volume of claims for collapsed buildings was high, overall claims covered a broader area of issues from problems with motors, guttering on farm houses and burst pipes.

One local farmer affected was Mark Nicholson of Fishwick Farm, who lost one building at the end of 2010 but he said he thought the seeds were sown with all the snow that came down last January.

He commented: “We were quite fortunate in that we had only one building collapse I’ve heard of some farmers in the area that have seen four go down and others damaged as well.

“My thinking is that the roof of our building was significantly weakened with the snowfall at the start of last year and it couldn’t cope with all the unexpected snow at the end of November. It was an old style building but I’ve heard reports that new sheds built to replace the ones that came down in Berwickshire in January have also collapsed.

“I also think the lack of wind has played a part. Normally the wind gets up and helps blow the snow off the roofs a bit but that didn’t happen this time and it’s not safe to get up and clear it all off.”

The snowfall that prompted a frustrating end to 2010 for many in the farming sector made its presence felt right across Berwickshire.

As temperatures climbed over Christmas and New Year, snow and ice melted causing pipes to burst and flooding in parts.

We reported that a Scottish Borders Council storage shed collapsed in Duns in December but a SBC spokesperson said that fortunately local authority buildings didn’t suffer too much at the hands of the wintry weather.

He commented: “Since the snow came in late November we have not had any single serious issue to deal with.

“We have, though, had to contend with burst pipes, collapsed guttering on some buildings and keeping access points open to schools and residential homes.”