St Austell couple homeless after wall collapse fight for insurance
An 88-year-old D-Day veteran and his wife have been left "shocked" after an insurance company refused to pay out following the collapse of the outside wall their cottage.
Former Royal Navy serviceman Gordon Fowle and his wheelchair-bound wife Betty, also aged 88, from Cornwall are homeless following the disaster sparked by the appalling wet and cold weather last month.
The great-grandparents are now locked-in a wrangle with the Prudential over what exactly their £500-a-year policy covered.
It could cost around £30,000 to fix the wall, according to family members.
Mrs Fowle, who has lived in the cottage for 40 years with her husband, said: "We're really shocked and don't understand why the Pru won't help us. We've been loyal customers for years.
"When I think of what my husband did for his country I feel really upset this big company won't help us.
"I don't know how all of this is going to end – it's terrible."
As a teenager Mr Fowle took part in the 1944 D-Day landings. His MP Stephen Gilbert called on the Prudential to ignore the small print in the policy and help the couple in their hour of need.
He said: "It is nothing short of a complete scandal that Gordon and Betty are being treated like this after having paid their home insurance year in and year out to the Pru. Gordon risked his life for our nation and helped liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny and now the Pru are trying to dodge their clear moral duty to pay out to this couple. I am calling on the Pru to pay up and recognise their duty in the same way that Gordon did his duty for our country."
Mr Fowle, who is the main carer for his wife, was pottering outside the cottage in the village of Polgooth, St Austell, on January 26 when he popped inside to make a cup of tea.
Before he stepped into the cottage he had been standing near the wall and could have been seriously injured. He heard a rumbling and went outside to find the wall had collapsed. A surveyor and structural engineer from the Prudential came out to inspect the damage.
The couple said five days later the company contacted them to say it would not pay for the damage because it had been caused by frost – which they were not covered for.
Locksmith James Flynn, 43, who is married to the couple's' granddaughter said: "I understand it could cost up to £30,000 to put right which they could never pay. But that amount for such a massive company is peanuts.
"Imagine how many other people young and old could find themselves in the same position as Gordon and Betty?
"I think it's a disgrace the Pru are turning their backs on such a decent couple."
Last night Tony Hannon, PR manager for the Prudential said: "Unfortunately, the damage to Mr and Mrs Fowle's home has occurred over a long period of time. It was due to water getting in to the exterior cob wall and then expanding and contracting with the changes in temperature.
"Home insurance policies generally do not provide cover for damage caused by property age or maintenance-related issues."