Half of the homes affected by the La Palma volcano are not insured

Una casa es destruida por la lava del volcán de la zona de Los Llanos, a 20 de septiembre de 2021, en El Paso, La Palma.
A house is destroyed by the lava from the volcano in the Los Llanos area, on 20 September 2021, in El Paso, La Palma. Kike Rincon (Europa Press)

The level of insured assets in the Canary Islands is at 55%, and on the island of La Palma this situation drops to 50% approximately, according to calculations made by the sector. The orography, with many houses scattered throughout the countryside and its rural vocation, increases this low level of home insurance. Large towns and cities are where more homes are insured.

This situation complicates the recovery and return to normality of those affected by the La Palma volcano eruption, who will not have compensation from the Insurance Compensation Consortium, which is already sending money to those who have lost their home and had home insurance in force. These people will depend on aid from the Government, which last Tuesday approved, through a Royal Decree-Law, a set of urgent measures to alleviate the damage caused by the volcanic eruption on La Palma. These actions, amounting to almost 214 million euros, are in addition to those already agreed in the Council of Ministers last week. So far there are 946 destroyed homes and 128 affected, according to the European Copernicus terrestrial monitoring satellite system.

The subsidies and direct aid approved are aimed at alleviating damage to homes, premises, productive, agricultural and fishing environment, infrastructure and the environment, according to the Government. In the field of housing and businesses, direct aid is established for natural and legal persons in cases of destruction or structural damage, while in the case of the agricultural and fishing sector they will be allocated 20, 3 million for damage to irrigation and rural roads and for fishing and aquaculture. Likewise, it is contemplated the exchange of farms affected by others of public ownership where agri-food farms can be relocated.

Two million compensation so far

The Consortium has transferred to date 725. 000 euros to those affected by the volcanic eruption on La Palma and plans to pay “up to two million euros in the coming days” as compensation for the destroyed homes. This was indicated this Wednesday by the Director of Operations of the Insurance Compensation Consortium, Alejandro Izuzquiza, in the presentation of the portal Naturally protected on natural phenomena and insurance, prepared jointly by Agroseguro, the employers’ association of the insurance companies Unespa and the Consortium itself.

Izuzquiza pointed out that so far 464 requests for compensation have been received under the loss of “homes, cars and some shops and hotels” from the affected municipalities on the island. Izuzquiza pointed out that the low volume of requests received, due to the fact that “the eruption is continuing its course”, creates difficulties in determining the economic impact, unlike other types of accidents such as floods or strong winds in which requests come from more concentrated way.

In fact, Izuzquiza acknowledged that they do not know how much the Consortium will pay in compensation, not only because the volcano continues to eruption, but also because “it is not a usual area of ​​activity of the Consortium”, so they do not know “the level of real insurance” in the area, and because of the lack of access “to the affected areas”. However, he wanted to highlight that “the Consortium will assume all the obligations it has by reason of an insurance contract with those affected, whatever the amount.”

Google maps to assess the missing houses

The Director of Operations of the Consortium also stressed that they are prioritizing “damage to destroyed homes”, whose appraisal “is simple” and “ownership of the property” is being verified in the Property Registry, as well as the “insured capital”.

The Consortium is using Google Maps to see the situation, the size and calculate, by a system of modules used by the experts, the valuation of the houses that in most of the cases have disappeared. They also use the Copernicus satellite to see the locations. Regarding the deadlines for compensation, Izuzquiza again highlighted the uncertainty about what the final number of applications will be, but assured that it will be “a matter of months” and not “years”.

The problem with this claim is that the owners will not only not recover anything from their home, but they will not recover anything from the land where their house was, nor will they be able to return to that place. For some, the crops near the house were their way of life and they have also disappeared, which will make it more difficult for those affected to rebuild their lives.

For his part, the Director of Production and Communication of Agroseguro, Sergio de Andrés, indicated that the volcanic eruption is an “extraordinary risk” that is not covered by the Agrarian Insurance Law, so it will not be covered damage to banana trees. However, he stressed that the payments of some 10 million euros in compensation in the west of La Palma for heat stroke and winds that occurred in August. The objective: “Raise awareness with the banana sector.”

Information on meteorological damage

For its part, Unespa has launched the new portal Naturally protected with him Consortium and Agroseguro so that journalists and the general public can find out who is responsible for the damage caused by meteorological phenomena such as rain, flood, storm, drought, frost, hail, snow, earthquake, eruption or lightning. The portal wants to answer three questions: the event that occurred, up to a total of ten caused by nature; the property or person who has suffered the damage and, thirdly, who has the responsibility to compensate the victim in case of having the property insured.

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