The recent stormy weather conditions have increased home insurance claims across the UK. Storm Ciara affected all parts of the UK this February, with wind speeds of up to 100mph and Storm Dennis following one week later.
So far storms Ciara and Dennis have led to a lot of damaged homes and a surge in the need for many to claim on their home insurance. Here we will explore what you can do to protect your home from storm damage and we’ll discuss the impact on your home insurance if you do need to make a claim.
What Defines A Storm?
This may seem like a strange question to ask. However, high winds and bad rainfall may be what you consider a storm, but this may not be the case in the eyes of all insurance providers.
Storms often have an official definition dependant on your provider, and claim acceptance is based upon weather terminal information in your local area. While some insurers do not explicitly lay out what a storm is by definition, most say it must have wind speeds of at least 47mph to count, and some raise that limit to 55mph.
It is important to note that typically, most insurers will not cover damage to fences, hedges and gates due to storm damage. Additionally, damaged satellite dishes, television aerials and patios are also unlikely to be covered unless the main house is also affected by a storm. The same principle applies to damaged trees damaged on your property. Many insurance firms will not pay to remove fallen trees and branches, unless they have damaged your home.
For this reason, it is important to check with your insurer about the specific details of what you are and are not covered for.
What Type Of Damage Can You Claim For?
Some incidents that you are likely to be able to make a claim for after a storm has damaged your property include:
- Structural damage due to the different weather hazards of a storm
- Damaged roof/tiles
- Property damage due to fallen trees and other debris
- Water damage
What Happens When You Make A Storm-Related Claim?
When you make your claim, your insurer is likely to check the storm conditions in your area. Then, dependant on the severity of the damage and likely cost of the claim, an assessor may come to your home. This may be an independent surveyor connected to your insurance company, or an employee of the insurer.
An important point to note is that the insurer will actively be looking to assess whether the damage on your property can be fully attributed to the storm, or if it occurred due to a lack of general upkeep and property maintenance. When assessing a claim, your insurer will always take the condition of your property into account because a well-maintained building should withstand all but the most severe weather damage. That is why it is important to always keep your property in good condition, so you do not increase your chances of an invalidated claim. An example of this would be if you make a claim for water damage but the insurer's inspection finds that the gutters aren't clear.
If it is clear that the damage is a result of the storm, then your insurer will let you know how they will proceed after inspection. If the damage to your home is serious, making it uninhabitable, your insurer should pay for temporary accommodation while it is being repaired.
Any policy details and procedures due to take place will be explained to you when you speak to your insurer. One piece of advice is to make sure that you take detailed photographs of all of the damage caused to your property for a personal record.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Home From Storm Damage?
There are a few things within your control that you can do to your property to help prevent avoidable damage in the event of a predicted storm:
- Ensure movable objects such as garden furniture, bins and ornaments are safely stored away or secure where they are placed.
- Ensure your drains or gutters are clear of debris to prevent blockages.
- Repair or replace any slipped or cracked roof tiles and secure tv aerials. Get advice from your insurance provider regarding temporary repairs and seek professional help for this type of work.
- Try to keep your car sheltered away from trees or other large, and potentially hazardous objects, ideally in a garage.
- Secure loose fences.
- Place valuables and electrical items in high cupboards or on higher floors to prevent damage.
- Store important documents in a watertight bag in a dry, accessible place.
- Make a list of useful numbers you may need, such as your insurer, the council and emergency services.
- Make sure you're indoors when the storm hits and don’t try to repair any storm damage during the bad weather.
Checking Your Policy Documents
If you are unsure of how to handle the effects of storm damage or would like to know where you stand before a storm is due to hit, check your policy documents. Some key things to look out for on your policy documents are how your home insurer treats:
- Fences, walls and gates
- Sheds and other outbuildings
- Incomplete extensions
- Property in the garden, such as garden furniture
- Falling trees
- The difference between contents and structural damage
These checks may seem like a chore, but it is better to know the details of your policy and not be caught out in the event that you do need to make a claim.
If you need home insurance, the best advice we can give you is to shop around, but the Be Wiser website is a fantastic place to start to help you find the right home insurance cover for your needs.