Spanish Banco Sabadell refuses storm damage insurance payment to Brit pensioner

Published:  18 Apr at 6 PM
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A British pensioner living in Malaga’s Alhaurin el Grande has been refused an insurance payment for her storm-damaged gate.

British expats moving to Mediterranean retirement hubs are often concerned about the reputations of European insurance companies, whether for health, home coverage or life insurance. There’s the language problem to be dealt with, and making a claim is often a nightmare for elderly expats. Even using insurers linked to or recommended by a local bank can go wrong, as 80-year old Sylvia Rush found when her gates were destroyed by Storm Emma.

The violent storm hit on March 1 and continued to batter Malaga with winds of up to 94kms every hour until the following day. Sylvia’s home had been insured for 17 years with Spain’s Sabadell Bank, the fifth largest in the country, leading her to believe she’d get fair treatment for her claim and leaving her stunned when the bank rejected it. The reason given was that storm force winds in the area were lower than the 75kmh cut-off after which claims would be paid, with a reading justifying the decision taken from Torremolinos and measuring 65kmh.

However, Sylvia’s home isn’t only a good distance from the wind speed measurement station used by the bank, it’s also at a much higher altitude and subject to stronger winds.
Spain’s AEMT weather agency measured Malaga winds at up to 94kmh, but couldn’t provide a reading for the Coin weather station closer to Sylvia’s home. A reading from nearby Fuengirola read out at 74kmh and one from Marbella’s Cabopino area was a stunning 94kmh. In addition, nearby Gaucin, Benehavis and Fuente de Piedra all registered gusts in excess of 80kmh.

Sylvia has had to pay for the repairs and replacement herself, and is angry and upset at the injustice of the bank’s response. She feels she’d paid out money for many years and has now been cheated by a bank which is simply finding an excuse not to pay. In an interview with local English language media, she said when she’d gone outside to check on the damage, she’d been almost blown over by the wind. The insurers haven’t as yet replied to media enquiries about the refused claim.
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