“A shocking landscape”; After the Great Storm’ of 1987

Crawford adjusters remember their experiences responding to the 1987 storm, in what was a very different, pre-digital era.

More than 15 million trees fell during the storm of 1987

Thirty years ago, the worst storm in nearly 300 years hit the UK and claimed 22 lives in a three-hour period overnight from 15 October to the early hours of 16 October 1987.

Winds gusted at speeds of 115 miles an hour across the UK, devastating the counties of Sussex, Essex, Suffolk and Kent. Overall 15 million trees were felled by the storm, with 70 percent being on private gardens and estates. Trees and other wreckage blocked roads and railways across the country as well as damaging buildings.

The Association of British Insurers estimated the final compensation bill at £1.4bn with damage costing in today’s money £2.83bn.  At the time it was the biggest ever insurance pay-out caused by the weather.

Loss adjusters sprang into action without many of the tools we take for granted today, mobile telephones, satellite navigation, digital cameras, email and most offices were reliant on fax machines, typewriters and paper notepads.

Over the past few weeks, many employees have shared stories of this storm with the ClaimsWorld® team. Their stories remind us of strides made with technology in recent years as adjusters dropped off photographic films at the chemist for developing or ordering additional fax machines to cope with demand.

Alister Jupp, newly appointed head of Crawford® Global Technical Services, UK says, “The adjusters who handled the claims from the 1987 storm would not have been able to imagine the technological changes embraced by the adjusting profession over the past 30 years.

“As evidenced by our response to recent surge events in the UK and internationally, we are now able to utilise field technology such as our bespoke digital media capture application, drones and increasingly providing customers with self-service apps.  The rise of our managed repair network, Contractor Connection, also means that we are able to control quality and costs and not be held to hostage by building merchants as many homeowners were in 1987.”

But as we marked the 30th anniversary of the storm, our adjusters, drone operators and our contractor network are busy responding to claims from ex-Hurricane Ophelia.  At Crawford, we pride ourselves on being always on call and our mission is to help restore lives, businesses and communities following a loss.

OCTOBER 19th 1987 – An adjuster’s diary

“I was in the Exeter Office on a Friday afternoon (the day after the storm) and our regional managing director said ‘see you in the Brighton office on Monday morning 9.00 am sharp.’  My home county of Devon had largely escaped the storm and I convinced myself it seemed a lot of fuss over nothing (no social media or internet to scare us all) and we all knew how relaxed Michael Fish, BBC weather forecaster, had been about it.

“But as I got to the Portsmouth area the landscape changed dramatically and the damage was shocking. The one thing that hasn’t changed since 1987 was the willingness our profession has to get stuck in and to see at first hand for themselves what is happening at ground level and to manage resources accordingly.”

Ian Martin, Agricultural Adjuster, Crawford & Company

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