Flood victim forced to live on sofas for two years after insurance claim rejected

Tesco has been called out by the Financial Ombudsman service, after it avoided paying a home insurance claim to a flood victim.

Helen Gorrill’s home, a converted chapel in Cumbria, flooded during a groundwater rise in 2012.

For the two years since then, Ms Gorrill has simultaneously had to live on her friends’ sofas and battle Tesco for her claim, even though the Ombudsman had already ruled in her favour.

Tesco apparently did “everything possible” to avoid paying out on her claim under insurance policy she had with the superstore.

Gorrill an artist and mother-of-two found her home flooded and despite paying for a £700 a year policy with Tesco Bank, not a single repair was carried out. Her initial claim, after her house was rendered inhabitable, was declined as Tesco said the water must have leaked or come from an appliance.

The Financial Ombudsman Service ruled in Ms Gorrill’s favour however, Tesco have dragged their feet paying out. The Ombudsman told the Guardian: “We’re currently speaking to the senior management team at Tesco to establish what factors might be adding to the delay in resolving this matter … If we feel a bank or insurer has deliberately stalled, or avoided carrying out our decision, we will report it to the regulator as a matter of course.”

The Ombudsman eventually got Tesco to move on the claim, and surveyors have begun to assess the property. The fear here though is that Tesco initially worked against the Ombudsman ruling. If firms have the power to go against the Ombudsman when they rule in favour of claimants, then the future of appeals appears shaky. If companies will refuse to payout, is it worth paying for home insurance in the first place?

Ms Gorrill should see the restoration begin soon, but will be unlikely to move back into her home before next summer, three years after the flood occurred.

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