On the evening of the 2nd of January at 7.20pm Pretloves Removals and Storage site at Great Chesterford was broken into through a fence leading from the railway track. As there have recently been a spate of diesel thefts in the County, our vehicles were parked together and reversed tightly next to each other to prevent further theft. It is quite clear from our CCTV camera that the thief, or arsonist as it turned out, was about 25 years of age and dressed in casual gear with a cap pulled down to hide his face. The next few minutes of the CCTV show the start of what turned into a nightmare for our business. Entering into the cab that was parked closest to our warehouse, the arsonist started a fire in the cab that quickly spread through the vehicle. Watching the CCTV video with our insurance brokers, Basil Fry and various loss adjustors has continually made my stomach turn and it got to the point rather quickly when I could watch the video no longer.
The fire spread very quickly through five vehicles and then started to effect the side of our warehouse on the site, damaging the canopy, the guttering and then commenced to lick inside of the join with the roof. The fire brigade were at the scene relatively quickly and did a marvellous job of putting the fire out despite the fact that they very nearly ran out of water.
On the Tuesday morning, we needed to work quickly to ascertain actual damage and to commence engaging the services of the relative insurance companies, via our brokers. Greg Wildman, one of the Directors of Basil Fry, was at the site early in the morning and within a few phonecalls had contacted all the relevant insurers who were asked to attend the site immediately. All insurers employed by ourselves via Basil Fry, principally RSA (formerly Royal and Sun Alliance) and Lonham Marine Underwriters were on the site by early afternoon and works began to tryand settle the various claims that were evidently going to be made.
The principal damage of course, was to the vehicles. Pretloves vehicles are created using DAF chassis cabs and Vancraft bodies and unlike the majority of the Industry’s vehicles, have canopy side openings. The vital issue with this claim therefore, has been to achieve reasonable payments in respect of the vehicles and both Basil Fry and RSA have worked together to achieve a very reasonable rate, which allows me to carefully plan for the future vehicle replacements.
My thanks go to both organisations for their help and assistance in this regard and especially to Basil Fry who tirelessly pursued the valuations to help me achieve what I needed. Works are still going on at the site. The yard was cleared very quickly by RSA’s approved contractors and we are looking carefully at security improvements to ensure that this never happens again. Luckily for our Company, there was no damage to the Customers effects and Paul Baker, from Baker and Company, quickly organised a refreshening of the warehouse to alleviate the smells of smoke that had penetrated within.
Unfortunately, no amount of security will completely protect you from arsonists or burglars. We have always maintained that a traditional belt and braces approach to our insurance coverage is the best way to proceed but one never really knows how organisations are going to reactat a time of crisis – I am just relieved that our brokers tirelessly fought our corner and achieved a great result within such a short space of time.