A Strathearn MSP has highlighted difficulties encountered by flood victims following two devastating incidents in Comrie.
Annabelle Ewing, one of the Mid Scotland and Fife representatives, raised the matter at the Scottish Parliament, where she described it as “an important debate” in the light of the “very significant impact” that dealing with insurance companies can have on victims of flooding.
The village of Comrie suffered two floods last year, one on August 27 and the other on November 19, with the latter resulting in around 150 homes being flooded and more than 200 householders having to be evacuated.
In both instances, the Water of Ruchill burst its banks. As a result, Perth and Kinross Council has begun work on a £1 million flood defence scheme for Comrie.
Ms Ewing emphasised the problems caused by flooding.
“There is not just the horror of the water coming in, as happened in Comrie in August and again, sadly, in November last year,” she said.
“The problem is not just the damage to precious and, in many cases, irreplaceable possessions. It is not just the smell that is left in the house and the dampness that creeps up the wall.
“In the case of the family home, in particular, it is not just the need to evacuate, with the endless months of being relocated, packing and unpacking, being inconvenienced and living out of suitcases, which is especially unsettling for families with children.
“Another absolutely miserable impact in, I believe, far too many cases is the requirement to have constant arguments with the insurance company at a time when people may be vulnerable emotionally when all that people want to do is to secure what they are entitled to under the policy for which, in many cases, they will have already paid handsomely.”
Ms Ewing claimed that “there was considerable room for improvement” regarding Comrie residents’ dealings with insurance firms and that she welcomes the assurance from Paul Wheelhouse, the Environment Minister, who told her he would be speak to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
“This debate showed that the Scottish Government is willing to listen to, and act on, the actual experiences of communities that have suffered that the processes of the Scottish Parliament are flexible enough to allow an issue like this to be raised,” she added.
A Scottish Government spokesperson commented: “The Environment and Climate Change Minister has met the ABI and others to raise Scottish flood insurance issues, but financial services are currently a reserved matter.
“As a result of the debate, the Minister will be writing to the ABI to ask that they consider using Comrie as a case study on back-to-back flood events and the impact that such events may have on the availability and cost of insurance for residential and business properties.
“In the meantime, the Scottish Government will continue to invest in managing flood risk to deliver a safer, stronger and more secure environment for the people of Scotland and our businesses.”
The council fast-tracked a £1.032 million flood defence scheme, following a report on the August flood. Work has taken place in Comrie to try to prevent future flooding, including building a fence beside the east bank of the River Ruchill to protect pedestrians.
In addition, vegetation has been cleared from the Fey Burn and from the dry side of the small concrete flood mitigation wall. Following the floods in Comrie, 3,000 floodsax and 1,000 sandbags were issued to Comrie Fire Station.