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Storm in a spinning teacup: Butlin’s sues Aviva over definition of flooding

Butlin’s is suing Aviva over the definition of a storm after serious flooding meant it had to shut its largest resort, which resulted in a bill of £60m.

The family-owned chain of holiday resorts has announced that it has brought a legal claim in the London High Court in response to insurers limiting the extent of cover they would provide for damage at a Butlin’s resort in the West Country.

The group of insurers, led by Aviva, had told Butlin’s that the damage fell within the category of a “storm”, and that as a result they would only cover £25m of damage, which it has paid.

However, Butlin’s have argued in the lawsuit that “as a matter of ordinary English” and as “a matter of law, a ‘storm’ occurs only when there is high wind”.

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And because, the leisure provider’s argument goes, the Met Office had not declared a “named storm” when the flooding occurred, its claim should not be capped at £25m.

It’s understood that while Aviva is yet to file its defence, the insurer disputes that interpretation, and believes there is legal precedent for the definition of a storm can preclude wind levels.

A spokesperson for Butlins told City A.M.: “Our Minehead resort was heavily impacted by the severe flooding that affected many businesses and homes in the South West in September 2023… As this is now a legal matter, we’re unable to comment further.”

The lawsuit is an example of the growing issues faced by the insurance industry, as the climate crisis increases the frequency and size of claims being made by policyholders that are related to extreme weather events.

The past 18 months have been the wettest on record in the UK, leading the Association of British Insurers to reveal earlier this month that weather damage insurance claims are at an all-time high.