Essex couple win compensation after water buffaloes fall into swimming pool

Water buffaloes (AFP via Getty Images)
Water buffaloes (AFP via Getty Images)

An Essex couple has won compensation after a herd of water buffalo trampled through their garden and plunged into their swimming pool.

Retirees Andy and Lynette Smith were forced to pay more than £25,000 in repair bills after the herd escaped from a rare breed farm and roamed through their garden last July, before falling into the couple’s £70,000 swimming pool.

The stampede wrecked the garden fencing and flower beds. The animals were later rescued unharmed by the farmer.

Water buffaloes, also known as Asian buffaloes, can reach over 6ft in height and weigh over 1,300 pounds.

Andy Smith told The Guardian that the authorities did not believe them when they first called to alert the incident.

“When my wife went to make the morning tea, she glanced out of the kitchen window and saw eight buffaloes in the pool,” he said, adding. “She called 999 and was told the fire brigade doesn’t accept hoax calls.”

“Buffaloes are top-heavy, and the porcelain tiles round the pool were slippery, so they lost their grip, and once they were in they couldn’t get out again,” Mr Smith said.

“The previous afternoon, we had hosted a pool party for our young grandchildren and their friends. If the invasion had happened hours earlier, it could have been very serious,” said Smith.

The farm’s insurer, NFU Mutual, accepted liability, but failed to agree a settlement for nearly a year.

“It took 15 weeks for them to send an assessor round and nearly six months to offer a sum that falls over £8,000 short of the two quotes they themselves obtained,” said Mr Smith. “We accept that they deal with claims far more serious than a damaged pool, but their failure to communicate has caused us countless sleepless nights.”

A spokesperson for NFU Mutual said: “We apologise for the delay paying this claim and in particular the initial wait for an inspector’s visit, which took too long and fell short of our usual standards.

“We have a duty to all of our members to ensure we validate the cost of claims and in this instance, we needed to gain further assurance around the costs involved in repairing the damage.”