How to claim for storm damage

If your property has suffered damage thanks to St Jude – the storm which swept through parts of the UK on Sunday night and Monday morning, here are our top tips to help you make a successful claim on your home insurance.

1. Do what you can to prevent further damage

Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property and reduce the risk of harm to others -but ONLY if this poses no risk to yourself. For example, if your roof is damaged and it's easy to access, it's worth covering it in a plastic sheet or tarpaulin to minimise further damage. But if access is tricky, leave well alone.

Never attempt to repair something that needs a professional – trees that have fallen should only be moved with the help of an expert.

If your home has been flooded, turn off your gas and electricity supply.

2. Contact your insurer

Contact your insurer as soon as you can and provide as much information as possible about what has happened. Damage to your property is usually covered by your buildings insurance, while contents insurance will cover damage to your possessions.

If you need to employ a contractor to remove debris or start repairs, it's best to check with your buildings insurance provider first. Some insurers will require you to use a specified tradesman and if you don't, your claim could be invalidated. There should be a helpline number on your insurance policy that you can call.

If you need to get emergency repairs carried out, be sure to keep hold of the receipt.

3. Take photos

Taking photos of the damage around your home, or even filming it, will help to support your claim. Don't be tempted to throw anything out without discussing it with your insurer first as these items will need to be assessed.

4. Don't exaggerate

Dealing with damage around your home can be stressful, but avoid exaggerating your home insurance claim. If you're not honest, your claim could be rejected.

5. Arrange alternative accommodation

If your home has been severely damaged and you need to move to alternative accommodation while repairs are carried out, the cost of this will usually be covered under your insurance policy. However, it's best to check when you speak to your insurance provider.

What to remember

Don't forget that when you make a home insurance claim, you will have to pay an excess. If your excess is high and the damage is relatively small, you may find it works out cheaper to pay for the damage out of your own pocket.

Also bear in mind that the cost of your home insurance will rise the following year if you make a claim – in fact, according to our number-crunchers at MoneySuperMarket, claiming for storm damage could push up your premiums by 33.9% (or around £47) a year.

Don't simply accept your renewal quote though – the best deals are usually offered to new customers, not existing ones, so always shop around to compare quotes with MoneySuperMarket.

This is even more important if your home has been flooded as in the most severe cases, premiums can be boosted by as much as £2,000 a year. However, from 2015, a new scheme, Flood Re, is set to come into force which will cap home insurance premiums according to Council Tax bands for those whose homes have been flooded. You can read more about this in Mark Hooson's article.

In the meantime, the insurance industry's Statement of Principles will continue to run. This ensures householders can renew their cover, regardless of the flood risk, so long as the government funded flood defence schemes. However, premiums and excesses can be high as they are calculated to reflect the risk you face.

For tips and advice on what to do if you have been hit by St Jude, read Kevin Pratt’s article and for what to do if your home has been flooded, take a look at what Jessica Bown has to say.

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