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Fears flood-hit Fife hospital staff abandoned by insurance companies

Cars at Victoria Hospital were damaged in the storm.
Cars at Victoria Hospital were damaged in the storm.

Hard-pressed healthcare staff in Fife fear being left out of pocket following the devastating floods earlier this month.

Footage showing vehicles piled on top of each other in Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital car park shocked the nation after torrential rain and thunderstorms.

Many nightshift workers were confronted with a scene of devastation when they returned to their cars on August 12.

While the flood water has receded, The Courier has learned many of the vehicle owners – patients, staff and visitors to the hospital – are facing difficulties getting their insurance companies to pay out.

One owner, who asked not to be named, said several staff had been told their claim may not be met because the incident was an “act of God”, which some insurers include their policies as a reason to negate insurance. Others have been told they could lose their no claims bonus.

Others say they have been denied a courtesy car because their vehicle is deemed to be repairable.

The source said: “These are supposedly reputable insurance companies who have enjoyed low claims whilst we have been locked down. The staff need help.

“They are working 12-and-a-half hour shifts during the night in a pandemic and cannot spend hours phoning or emailing these companies during these companies, working hours to obtain proper recompense.

“How are they supposed to get to and from work without a car when public transport is not available?”

A number of local businesses have stepped in to support affected NHS staff. Coach company Bay Travel  offered transport to get people home in the hours after the flooding.

Praise has also been heaped on Specialist Cars Volkswagen in Kirkcaldy, which has arranged free car hire for 28 NHS workers left without transport.

Specialist Cars Volkswagen Kirkcaldy stepped in to help provide hire cars.

Craig Ingram, head of business at Specialist Cars Volkswagen Kirkcaldy, said: “A large number of our staff are from the Kirkcaldy area and have used The Vic for births, deaths, A&E visits and everything in between.

“Our sales controller, Greg Montignani, felt that there must be some way for us to help those staff who have helped us and many others over the years.

“We have had reports from people whose cars are still stranded in the car park, due to it being unsafe to retrieve the vehicle.

“This means that the car hasn’t officially been written off yet, which means the insurance process hasn’t started yet, so no courtesy car, no timescale for insurance payout.”

NHS Fife has said it is “hugely grateful” to those who have offered help and is fully supporting employees in the aftermath of the floods.

Workforce director Linda Douglas added: “Our hearts go out to those involved and as an organisation we are doing all we possibly can to support the affected staff through this particularly stressful time.

“It would be remiss not to thank the local businesses who have helped to support those affected, whether that be helping them get home initially or the offer of rental cars over recent days and we are very grateful for the assistance offered to our staff.”

A spokesperson for insurance website said there is no “simple yes or no” answer when it comes to flood damage being covered by car insurance.

“As far as an insurer is concerned, claims fall into one of two brackets – ‘at-fault’ and ‘non-fault’,” they noted.

“An incident is considered a non-fault claim when another person is to blame and as a result, your insurer reclaims any repair costs from their insurer.

“Unfortunately, any instance where repair costs cannot be reclaimed is generally considered an at-fault claim – simply because there’s no way of recouping the money required to put your car right.

“As such, third party, and third party, fire and theft policies will not cover you for water damage.”

Most people should be covered in the event of an ‘act of God’ if they have fully comprehensive insurance as it is considered unavoidable.

However, the spokesperson added: “It’s important that you check because, since insurers moved away from using the term act of God, they’ve become more specific about what kind of incidents they don’t provide cover for.”

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