Norfolk

Couple told insurers will not pay out over Hemsby home

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Media captionHemsby cliff-top homes demolition captured in drone footage

A couple say they will fight a decision by insurers not to pay out after their coastal home was ravaged by storms.

Stephen and Carol Chadwick's cliff top house in Hemsby, Norfolk, was destroyed after strong winds tore away six metres of sand in two days.

It is one of five "dangerous" properties being dismantled over the weekend by demolitions teams.

Speaking from his home in Hertfordshire, Mr Chadwick described the week's events as "like a death".

Three of the five houses on The Marrams have already been demolished, Great Yarmouth Borough Council confirmed.

Image caption An aerial of the demolition work shows diggers on the beach and the clifftop working together
Image caption Diggers arrived at the clifftop in Hemsby at 05:30 GMT on Saturday

Mr Chadwick, who lives in Waltham Cross, bought the chalet in September as "an escape" after spending childhood summers in the area with his parents.

He said he paid £162 upfront for insurance and that the policy had "gone through" without any problems.

"We got a phone call on Friday to say we weren't covered because of 'erosion' - but this was caused by the storms and winds.

"If it had been refused, or too high, I wouldn't have bought the place."

Image caption Carol and Stephen Chadwick said the last seven days have been "surreal", "like a death"

A letter from the couple's insurance agents, Staffordshire-based Davies Group, said insurer Modus Underwriting will "not pay for loss or damage caused by subsidence, heave or landslip", or "caused by river or coastal erosion".

"It is well documented that the area in which your property is situated has been affected by coastal erosion," the letter reads. "As such the pending damage to the property is inevitable rather than fortuitous."

The Chadwicks will return to the east coast on Monday to meet council officials, and have vowed to "find the strength" to fight the decision.

Image caption Demolition teams dismantled one of the homes in an hour on Saturday morning

A total of 13 properties, a mix of holiday chalets and permanent homes, had to be evacuated because the storm damage.

Council spokesman David Wiles said: "Building control surveyors and environmental services officers are constantly reviewing the situation with respect to the remaining eight properties, which are at significant risk of being lost through the further settlement of the cliffs.

"The council has been speaking to, and will continue to speak with, the homeowners to discuss the way forward."

It is understood the demolition team can only persist with the work during low tides, with diggers on the beach and the cliff top working together.

It is the second time in five years that the area has been severely damaged by a storm surge.

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