Insurers say the most common claims to homes and property are or dislodged tiles or slates, windows broken by debris carried on the storm, dislodged aerials that have gone on to cause further damage and trees or branches brought down by high winds, as well as flooding.
All this rainfall is bad news for cars too. Many of those rescued have been 4x4 drivers under the misapprehension that their vehicle can cope with driving through water. They discover that ‘off road’ capability doesn’t include flood water as it will destroy a car engine if it gets into the air intake.
This can happen if the water is deep or if the driver attempts to drive through shallow water at speed, creating a ‘bow wave’ that floods the engine. Insurers estimate that three-quarters (70%) of cars stranded in flood water are written-off.
Aside from water damage, most claims are routine for severe weather, however; and include falling branches, tiles and other debris – while some cars are blown off the road.
What can you do?
If there is a chance that your home or property could be damaged there are steps you can take to minimise and manage it. Inspect the outside of your home to ensure any trees close by. Stormy weather can bring down branches and so make sure these have been pruned back to limit the risk of damage to property.
If further heavy rain is forecast in your area, ask your local council for sandbags to help protect your property from water seeping in. If possible, take photographs of any damage to your property. This will prove useful when making a claim. If you are forced to move to alternative accommodation, make sure that you have secured your property, locking all doors and windows and boarding up any gaps. Following flooding or damage to your property, do not use gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified tradesmen. Drivers should take great care to avoid flooded roads and check for alternative routes.
Will claims lead to premium increases?
Despite the spike in home insurance claims towards the end of the year, 2013 is proving to be one of the least costly for insurers since the widespread floods of 2007. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the total number of home claims is expected to be around 5% down compared with 2012. This should minimise any increase caused by the extra claims. But anyone making a claim may lose their no claims discount next year, and so may have to pay a higher charge.
Bad weather has resulted in a loss of power for many homes. Residents in southern England who were left without power over Christmas following severe weather will, however, receive compensation. Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) said it would pay £54 to all customers who were without electricity for 48 hours. There will be further payments of £54 for each subsequent full 12-hour period without power. Those affected for any length of time on Christmas Day will receive £75. The power cuts were caused by strong winds brought down power lines just before Christmas with the south east of England worst hit.
SSEPD is to write to those affected, but compensation claims can be made online at www.ssepd.co.uk/goodwill. Customers eligible for priority services would receive payments automatically while others could have to wait up to five weeks to receive a cheque.