Storm Desmond – a look back

Two years ago, Storm Desmond swept across the UK and Ireland in what was the first of several devastating weather events, resulting in Crawford & Company® handling well over 10,000 severe claims in a single winter.

Now, having passed the anniversary of Desmond’s strike on 4 December, ClaimsWorld® speaks exclusively to Crawford® insurer client NFU Mutual about their unique experience of the storm.

NFU Mutual had a small office in Appleby, Cumbria, which was badly affected by flood damage.  Amanda Wallbank recalls the impact of Storm Desmond on 4 December 2015 and the effect on the team in Appleby.

“The Appleby NFU Mutual is small, with two agents and three full time employees, located in the middle of town in what we thought was a safe location that would never flood. How wrong we were.” said Amanda Wallbank, Insurance Agent, NFU Mutual.

“When Storm Desmond hit none of us had ever dealt with anything like this.”

“It became apparent early on 4 December that the town and surrounding area had been badly hit. We discovered on 5 December that our office had also been flooded so we had no operational base.”

“People stepped in to help and employees were quickly moved to the insurer’s sub office 13 miles away.”

“On the Sunday we started to contact the loss adjusters, putting calls out to John Moore of Crawford for urgent help. The response was fantastic,” says Amanda. “On the Monday morning we were in a position to have loss adjusters on both sides of the town, visiting our flooded customers, of which there were a lot. The immediate response was quick and efficient and enabled us to visit all our customers within days of the flooding.”

The Sands side of the town was worst hit and Dickon Turner of Crawford was on the scene quickly.

“These were people who had both their houses and businesses severely flooded. Dickon dealt with them brilliantly,” says Amanda. “He guided them through the process every step of the way so that they were never in any doubt as to how things were to proceed. In a time that was so chaotic this meant a lot to the customers and to us.”

As the weeks moved on, Head of Agricultural, Rural Industries & Estate Losses, Paul Lofkin, and Client Account Director, Angus Stevens at Crawford arranged to visit the NFUM team regularly, meanwhile contacting all the insurer’s flooded customers to let them know that they were here.

“These customers could visit the Claim Surgeries to get updates on their claims, to ask questions or just have a chat,” explains Amanda. “These were often cosy meetings as we were operating out of a show trailer at the time. It also meant that we could be kept updated with each claim and could have the hands on approach we wanted.”

“Often the surgeries were quiet, but this was proof that the claims were being dealt with well and no one had any concerns.”


With hindsight, Amanda says the teamwork between NFUM  and Crawford adjusters’ skills in managing claims as well as customer expectations meant that a difficult situation was made that little bit easier.

“I have thought about what we would do differently if this happened again, and truthfully I would say nothing,” says Amanda. “We decided on 4 December that we would be there every step of the way to help and to make the difference to our customers, and everything that the Crawford team did helped us to achieve this.  I am very proud of the way we all came together to ensure that our customers were looked after quickly and that the claims were dealt with efficiently.”


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