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Insurers promise rapid action for flood victims

Credit: Belga

The federal government will today meet with representatives of the insurance industry in an attempt to ensure a rapid response to claims from those affected by the flooding of the past week.

The industry has already expressed a willingness to comply.

“We want to provide assistance to the people who are affected, in all kinds of areas,” said Wauthier Robyns of the industry federation Assuralia.

The insurers will not do that routinely, but will work with advance payments, to be able to repair the essentials. “It is all hands on deck with the insurers, the intermediaries and the experts. All forces that can contribute to an accelerated response to those affected will be mobilised.”

For anyone who is affected, the advice is to make contact as soon as possible with your insurance broker, bank or insurance company.

“With them you can determine which assistance can be offered in the short term: temporary accommodation if the house is uninhabitable, storage of furniture or equipment to dry the building,” Robyns said.

“You can also arrange to start an accelerated procedure to meet the greatest need through advance payments, to buy a refrigerator, new bedding or clothing and to start living normally again as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile the official death toll caused by floods in Belgium has now gone up from 28 to 31, and the number of those missing from 103 to 163. The Crisis Centre has asked anyone who has been unable to make contact with friends and family to report the details to the emergency services.

Today, the job of tracing those who remain unaccounted for will be taken over by the Missing Persons unit of the federal police, a small unit now faced with a mammoth task.

I can imagine that some of those 163 people who are now on the list have not yet been able to contact anyone,” said Alain Remue, who heads the unit. “But we also realize that the more time it takes, the more questions that arise. We have to be honest about that.”

Remue has been hunting missing persons since 1995, when the unit was set up, but nothing so far has had the dimensions of this crisis.

“This is something we’ve never experienced before. Usually we send aid to other countries for this kind of situation, but now it’s the other way around,” he said.

This will be a huge challenge, but there is a lot of cooperation. We have a lot of resources and services, but it will certainly not be an easy task.”