Powerful winds and storms can cause extensive damage to property as many will have experienced this year. The extreme weather seen in parts of the country over the last couple of months has caused chaos for many households, who will now be looking to make an insurance claim.
Extreme weather in general - torrential rain, heavy snow, ice and storms - brings with it power cuts, travel chaos, flooding and general havoc for many, who then have to make claims on insurance for damage to homes and other property, contents and cars.
In such circumstances, huge numbers of households have to make claims due to bad weather creating costly havoc in their homes, including damaged roofs, fences and outbuildings, as well as burst or damaged water pipes.
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.
Extreme weather is bad news for cars too. Aside from water damage, most claims are routine for severe weather, however. These include falling branches, tiles and other debris – while some cars are blown off the road.
How to protect your home from flooding
According to the Association of British Insurers, when looked at over the long term, floods and storms tend to result in similar levels of claims costs for the insurance industry. But while floods create lower numbers of expensive claims, wind damage affects far higher numbers of people, but less severely.
10 ways your garden can help reduce flash flooding
Learn more about the flood reinsurance scheme
What you can claim for
It’s important to understand what your home insurance will cover, before reaching for the claim form. Remember, it’s not just damage to your property that might give rise to a claim. You might find a neighbour has a claim against you should one of your roof tiles go crashing into their greenhouse.
Insurers report that some of the most common claims to homes and property are dislodged tiles or slates, windows broken by debris carried by high winds, and trees or branches brought down that have damaged property. Falling TV aerials are also usually covered by an insurance policy.
Home insurance policies, like any other type of insurance, include exclusions.
Roof damage is covered, but not if the roof was in a state of disrepair in the first place.
Wear and tear is not typically covered, so an insurance company won’t pay to replace an old, rickety fence blown down and damaged beyond repair either. This is why it’s important to keep your home well maintained.
However, where there is extreme damage caused by a storm, and your home in uninhabitable, an insurer will usually pay out for temporary accommodation while repairs are carried out.
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Dealing with claims against you
If you’re unlucky, you might be accountable for damage to other people’s property or, even worse, another person – a tile from your roof might get caught in a powerful gust and hit a car, a wheelie bin could blow over and hit a passerby. If your garden wall collapses or a tree in your garden blows over and damage someone else’s property, you're also liable.
Most property policies will give a homeowner some sort of liability cover which will cover any valid claim. Where there is damage to a car, the car owner can claim for the damage to their vehicle from their own motor insurer if it’s worth doing once the excess is factored in. Their motor insurer can then make a claim on your third-party liability in your buildings cover.
In any event, talk to your insurer at the earliest opportunity to get guidance on any potential claim.
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.
Check for any cracked, missing or loose tiles and replace them. If a roof is in disrepair, the weight of snow or high winds can be hazardous.
Clear your guttering and drains of any debris such as leaves, mud and stones; they can block easily and freeze up.
Stormy weather can bring down branches, so check any trees on your property and make sure they've been pruned back to limit the risk of damage.
If 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 an insurance claim. Following flooding or damage to your property, do not use gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified tradesmen.
If you're forced to move to alternative accommodation, make sure that you have secured your property, locking all doors and windows and boarding up any gaps. Drivers should take great care to avoid flooded or icy routes.
Will claims lead to premium increases?
The cost of insuring a home rose by 2.9% during the 2019/20 storm season, according to Consumer Intelligence, a company that provides data for the Office for National Statistics. Anyone making a claim may therefore end up losing their no claims discount, and subsequently may have to pay a higher charge.
Homeowners affected by a cut can claim compensation from their local electricity distributor for a power cut caused by bad weather – but only if the power has been off for 24 hours or more.
According to Citizens Advice, you should be paid compensation without having to claim. But if you don't receive your money you can still make a claim by contacting your electricity distributor – not your energy supplier.
You can find out the correct firm to contact on the Energy Networks Association website
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