Is your property protected against storm damage?
When a storm strikes it can cause serious damage to your home so it’s essential to make sure your property is properly protected.
Fallen trees, high winds, lightning and torrential rain can all wreak havoc on our properties in different ways, often resulting in structural damage or flooding.
Here, we explain how to protect your property from storm damage and how to make a home insurance claim following a storm or flood.
Does home insurance cover storm damage?
Storm damage is usually covered by your home insurance, but your insurer must be satisfied that you’ve maintained your home to a reasonable standard.
For example, if a storm has knocked tiles from your roof, you may need to provide evidence that they hadn’t already been damaged by wear and tear.
Disputes can also arise over what insurers consider a ‘storm’. Some insurers use a system called the Beaufort scale to decide whether to pay out in the event of a claim. This categorises wind speed on a scale of 0 to 12. An insurer may claim that only winds above a certain point on this scale count as storm-force winds that could damage a building.
What can I claim for after a storm?
Check the small print of your home insurance policy carefully, as policies often vary when it comes to storm damage. For example, while some insurers may pay out for damage to fences, walls, gates, sheds and other outbuildings, others do not.
Typically, garden furniture is excluded unless it’s specifically mentioned in your policy, so if you know bad weather is on the way make sure you put it away or try to secure it. You can buy separate garden cover as a policy extra, which might be useful if you have more expensive items such as barbecues or garden ornaments.
If your property’s contents are damaged during a storm, you should make a claim under your contents insurance.
Most weather-related contents claims are made as a result of flooding, which has been a huge problem in some areas of the country in recent years. Previously homeowners affected by flooding have reported facing difficulties finding cover in subsequent years – however, the Association of British Insurers and the government have put a scheme called Flood Re in place to help.
If your home is uninhabitable after a storm, your insurer should pay for alternative accommodation, until repairs can be carried out.
How can I protect my property from bad weather?
Making sure your property is properly maintained can help prevent storm and other weather-related damage. There are plenty of measures you can take, including:
- Check any repair any loose roof tiles
- Fix broken fences or walls in case they fall down during a storm
- Check drains and gutters are free from blockages
- Prune trees close to the house
- Secure windows and doors if a storm is expected
- Park your car away from trees and ideally in a garage
- Put outdoor items such as garden furniture away or tie them down
- Check that pipes are lagged properly
- If you’re away during winter, set your heating to come on during the coldest part of the night to help prevent pipes from freezing
How to make a claim
Contact your insurer as soon as you notice any damage and let them know you need to make a claim.
There are several steps you can take to help your insurer process your claim as quickly as possible:
- Take photos of the damage and record the date and time
- Don’t throw away any of your possessions, even if they have been ruined by storm damage. Many insurers will want to see the extent of the damage, so wherever possible keep items to show them
- If you had to arrange any urgent repairs before you informed your insurer, hang onto the receipts so you can claim these costs back later
- If there is damage to your neighbour’s property from, for example, a tile falling off your roof, don’t panic. Your buildings insurance may include liability cover so contact your insurer to check. Your neighbour will typically make a claim on their policy, and get any costs returned from your insurer
Remember that when you make a claim you’ll have to pay an excess, which is the portion of any claim you must pay yourself. If you have a no claims bonus, you may lose some or all of it by claiming. This means your insurance cover may be more expensive when you come to renew your policy.
Compare storm insurance policies
Storm insurance is covered under regular buildings insurance policies. It pays to shop around when looking for home insurance, and you can compare lots of policies using the MoneySuperMarket comparison tool.