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Storm insurance deadline extended

Insurers agree to push back deadline to March 31 and will pay all claims up to €2,000 within three months

HOUSEHOLDS hit by last weekend's storm and floods have been given an extension to make their insurance claims.

French insurance body FFSA says all of its members have agreed to push the deadline back to March 31, giving victims almost a month to submit a claim.

An early estimate by FFSA has put the cost of the storm damage at about €1bn.

Normally a five-day limit applies to storm damage claims - extended to 10 days for flooding if the government decrees a state of "natural disaster", which it has now done for four departments in the west: the Vendée, Vienne, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime.

Claimants can make their claim by any method: telephone, email or letter. They do not need to provide an attestation de vitesse de vent - an official document confirming the strength of the wind. Insurers will get this information directly from Météo France.

The extended deadline was agreed yesterday at a crisis meeting of insurance firms. They agreed to process and pay all claims up to €2,000 within three months. The FFSA says insurers are doing all they can to get through the huge number of requests.

Advance payments are available on many policies, allowing for basic reparations to be made until the full claim is approved.

Some 51 people died in last weekend's storm - more than half of whom lived in the low-lying communes of La-Faute-sur-Mer and L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer on the Vendée coast.

Yesterday it emerged that some of the claimants from last January's Hurricane Klaus, which caused widespread damage in the south-west of the country, had waited almost a year to be paid.

The mayor of Mont-de-Marsan, in the Landes, told 20 Minutes: "We have only just received, at the end of December, an insurance payout and some compensation from the departmental council."

More on Storm Xynthia:
Major project to rebuild sea walls
Special measures for storm victims
Natural disaster as storm kills dozens

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