Insurer RSA has warned that its bill for UK weather-related claims is expected to be £110 million more than normal after the coldest December for 100 years.
Last month’s snow and freezing conditions sent claims for snow and burst pipes soaring, with around 8,000 claims at an average cost of £6,700 since November.
The UK hit contributed to an overall weather impact that was £142 million more than normal for November and December as the More Than owner also counted the cost of a winter freeze in areas such as Scandinavia and Ireland.
Extreme events earlier in the year, such as the Chilean earthquake last February, will see the total annual adverse weather cost for 2010 at around £255 million more than normal, or £175 million worse than 2009.
RSA said this was expected to leave full-year earnings lower than market forecasts – at around £600 million to £630 million against predictions for at least £700 million. Shares in the firm dropped 3% after the profit alert.
There were almost 19,000 UK home emergency claims to RSA over November and December in addition to those for burst pipe claims, 5,500 for snow damage and nearly 5,700 other weather-related claims.
The group said calls to its UK call centres were almost twice normal levels, at around 82,000 more than normal since the beginning of December.
It said it aimed to deal with claims under £3,000 through call centres, with more complex cases responded to by teams within 48 hours.
RSA, which has around a 6% share of the UK household insurance market, braced customers for further increases in the cost of cover this year, although it said this was largely down to inflation and the VAT rise and not the weather.
Britain suffered in the grip of the coldest December since records began 100 years ago and the coldest winter so far since 1978. The average UK temperature was 1.5C – with the lowest recorded in Altnaharra in Sutherland, Scotland, where it hit minus 22.3C.