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Whisky & Water don’t always go well together.

Flood damage to a bottled whisky collection is not perhaps the most obvious incident you might think about when considering risks that could cause loss or damage. However, as the saying goes ‘these things happen’ and it certainly did happen to a client of ours who had his whisky collection stored within a ground floor unit, which was housed internally, within a self-storage facility.

During some extreme weather and unprecedented rainfall in the area, the local drainage system was unable to cope with the deluge and this resulted in flooding of the storage facility to a depth of approximately two feet. Water entered the main storage building and seeped into the Insured’s unit to a depth of about 10 inches. There were about 130 units on the ground floor of which all we understand were affected by the flood.



Our client, however, was well prepared and a superb example of how to take risk prevention and management seriously which will support and speed up the claims process. Not only did he have a full itemised inventory and photographs of the bottles, but he also stored his collection up off the ground and had it, in the main, well packaged to prevent against, in particular, accidental damage. Not only that but as soon as he was able to access the facility he moved his contents to a first-floor unit.

The client had about 240 bottles of whisky stored in the unit. As soon as we received his call we arranged for a Loss Adjustor to visit the facility as soon as was possible. About 21 of the 240 bottles had been adversely affected by the floodwater. Most of the damage was to the cardboard presentation boxes as well as a number of labels. With the excellent assistance of Andy Simpson at Rare Whisky 101 a pre-loss and post-loss value was established.

Whilst the contents of the bottles were unaffected, the client benefitted from a settlement that reflected the depreciation in value following damage to the packaging and labels. This type of cover would not ordinarily be afforded under a standard market household policy. Interestingly, at the time of storing the collection at the unit, the client was offered insurance from the storage facility. However, this only provided a limited level of cover and was more expensive than a specialist collections policy arranged through Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers.



Lesson Learnt

•    If you are using a storage facility, ensure you rent a unit inside the main building and if you can, on the 1st floor. Be aware of leaks that could happen from above and ask the facility about their intruder, fire and water and flood detection systems.
•    Packing & Protection: as our client said ‘you cannot just keep your whisky collection in its carton and expect it to survive’ – particularly if you are using a third party storage unit where you don’t have regular access to check your collection. Pack it up using air sacs where possible, pack items into plastic boxes, raise boxes and bottles well up off the floor. Ensure collections are not subject to temperature fluctuations and kept away from exposure light. If at home and on display, ensure that they are not kept in a high traffic area, cannot be easily knocked over and if being moved either to sell, or you are buying, again make sure that they are adequately packed – this is when most accidents happen, in transit.
•    Valuations: know what your whisky is worth and keep your inventory up to date.
•    Evidence: take photographs of your collection, keep purchase receipts and all other supporting documentation – it all helps in the event of loss or damage to produce as much documentation as you can and will often really speed up the claim process.
•    Get insured with a specialist policy. Apparently, out of the 130 units at this facility, only 27 had any sort of insurance and for most of them, it was the only very basic £1,000 of cover offered by the storage facility.


“I’ve had great service from Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. They ensured what needed to happen did at the right time, good communication and always left me with the impression that my situation was important to them. Despite not being a customer of theirs for very long, I felt every bit as valued as a customer who has used them for years." - Mr. S.Secker