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Leaseholders with Flagship Housing in Newmarket shocked by huge rise in insurance bills





Shocked owners of former housing association flats in Newmarket have been hit with a massive rise in their home insurance premiums.

Residents who are leaseholders with Flagship Housing have received bills more than 400 per cent higher than they paid last year and have contacted Newmarket and West Suffolk Labour councillor Kevin Yarrow for help.

Among those affected are pensioners Trisha Coyle and Maria Harris who both paid Flagship £74.88 last year for their building insurance which this year is costing them £380.55.

Newmarket residents who are leaseholders with Flagship Housing have received bills more than 400 per cent higher than they paid last year. Picture: istock
Newmarket residents who are leaseholders with Flagship Housing have received bills more than 400 per cent higher than they paid last year. Picture: istock

Mrs Coyle, 82, who has lived in Newmarket all her life, bought her two-bedroom flat in Windsor Road, which she had previously rented, under the government right to buy scheme in 1989.

She said she had been surprised by the cost of insurance and tried to contact Flagship Housing who did not answer the telephone or reply to her letters.

“Councillor Yarrow is the only person I’ve been able to speak to who could explain to me what was going on. Flagship once billed me for £1,380 for roof lining for the block I live in and when I queried it they wrote to me saying they had made a mistake and I didn’t have to pay, so I’m never sure they know what they’re doing,” said Mrs Coyle.

Newmarket and West Suffolk councillor Kevin Yarrow
Newmarket and West Suffolk councillor Kevin Yarrow

Mrs Harris, who is 75 and a retired stable worker, was told by Flagship back in October that they might have to charge ‘some extra’ money for the buildings cover on her flat in Valley Way which she purchased privately nearly 19 years ago.

“I thought it would be going up by five or ten pounds so you can imagine the shock when I got the bill,” she said. “I rang Flagship but they just said there was nothing they could do about it.”

Mrs Harris went to the town council offices and was put in touch with Cllr Yarrow.

“He explained to me why the cost had gone up, which was what Flagship should have done.

“I’m going to have to make some cutbacks to find the extra money and I’ll have to be very careful with the gas and electricity,” she said.

Cllr Yarrow said: “Unfortunately, there’s nothing much I can do to help except to make sure everybody, including politicians, are made aware of this issue and the people affected it by it don’t just have to suffer in silence.

“I can see no reason at all why leaseholders have to be tied in to housing associations’ insurance companies. That should be changed so that if they wish they can negotiate their own insurance like everybody else.

“Fundamentally, this should be seen as a reflection of the cost-of-living crisis and central government should be doing much more to help.”

Flagship Group's chief financial officer, Jonathan McManus, said in a statement: “Unfortunately, fewer companies are offering insurance, and those that do are giving out fewer policies across the housing sector. Costs associated with rebuilding properties, including temporary accommodation have increased significantly, as have material costs. Insurance providers costs have increased too, which have been passed onto Flagship.

“To add to this, due to external factors such as high inflation and environmental changes causing more flood and storm events, the cost of property insurance has significantly increased over the last year. This, regretfully, has been reflected in the renewal cost of our Group insurance policy and in our leaseholders’ share of the premium.

"We have done and will continue to do everything we can to ensure value for money and keep costs as low as possible, while ensuring our leaseholders have appropriate cover and peace of mind.”