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Insurers swamped by flood claims

November 20, 2015

Heavy flooding in the past week in the southern province of Tamil Nadu have resulted in numerous insurance claims, particularly from businesses in industrial zones.

Several large insurance companies have set up special teams to deal with the claims from affected factories. Industry players say that it is too early to give an overall estimate of insurance losses. State-owned Chennai headquartered United India Insurance has so far received claims exceeding INR1.1 billion (US$16.6 million) and more claims are expected, the company’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Milind Kharat, told the local media. The majority of claims are from Chennai, which is the capital of Tamil Nadu.

Chennai received its highest rainfall in the last 10 years, recording 246.5mm rainfall in 24 hours last Monday, causing extensive damage to property and life. The floods have claimed more than 70 lives in the past week. Another state-owned insurer, New India Assurance, has received claims so far totalling INR300 million in Chennai. “It’s early days. We are still awaiting the full claims data. While the sudden flooding in Chennai has resulted in claims coming from the city, claims have not yet come in from other parts of the state,” the company’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr G Srinivasan, said.

Private insurer Bajaj Allianz General Insurance expects substantial losses in the motor and property line segments. “The city has a higher concentration of high-end vehicles, hence we are expecting considerable losses from this segment. Of the claims that have been reported for motor, many of them pertain to high-end cars. In case of property insurance, we have received claims for damage to stocks and other assets from business and commercial set ups due to inundation,” the Times of India reported, citing the insurer’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr Sasikumar Adidamu. Meanwhile, questions are being raised over Chennai’s basic infrastructure. “The master plan itself has been put together with absolutely no thought to hydrology,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, an environmental activist and writer, according to a report by Livemint. Located on the east coast of India, the city often faces cyclones and heavy rains.

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