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How to protect your home against storm damage

How to protect your home against storm damage

Storms are estimated to cause around £300 million worth of damage each year in the UK, according to the Met Office.

Whilst most home insurance policies offer some level of storm and weather cover, there are exceptions, so you should always check carefully to see exactly what is and isn’t covered.

To give you an idea, fences, hedges and gates aren’t typically covered against bad weather, and nor is accidental damage if water enters your home through a poorly maintained roof.

Storms also have an official definition when it comes to insurance, and what you consider to be stormy conditions may not meet the criteria adopted by your insurance provider.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), a storm is a period of violent weather with wind speeds with gusts of at least 48 knots (55mph) - the equivalent of Storm Force 10 on the Beaufort Scale. 

Storms also become ‘official’ in insurance terms, when there’s torrential rainfall of at least 25mm per hour, snow to a depth of at least one foot (30 cm) in 24 hours, and hailstones of such intensity that they cause damage to hard surfaces or break glass.

The BBC recently reported on a family whose claim for a roof, ripped off by Storm Arwen, was declined when their insurers didn’t accept the wind speeds were sufficient to cause storm damage.

The insurer said it needed to consider “whether the storm was the dominant reason,” after their surveyor found “pre-existing issues with the roof covering.”

A spokesman said the high winds “highlighted an ongoing issue with the flat roof covering,” and added that “there is no cover on a home insurance policy for damage caused by wear and tear or ongoing maintenance issues.”

It’s your responsibility to maintain and protect your home to a reasonable standard as neglecting your home could have negative implications, such as your insurance provider refusing to pay a claim, later on.

Here at One Call Insurance, we can sympathise with those impacted within BBC report above and strongly encourage you to carry out regular checks on your home to avoid putting yourself into a similar situation.

With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips on how to prepare your home against the threat of extreme weather:

Check your pipes regularly and repair any leaks; keep your gutters intact and free from debris; trim back any plants and trees growing near your property.

You can take a number of precautions to prepare for storms by ensuring your property is well maintained, for example, making sure that loose roof tiles are fixed. 

Listen out for bad weather warnings on local radio and TV and check the websites of the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales or the Rivers Agency (Northern Ireland). 

If you know there’s a storm brewing, shut your windows and doors, store your garden furniture away and park your car somewhere safe to protect it from falling tiles or trees.

Make sure any unsecured items, like ladders in gardens, that can cause damage in high winds are secured.

Keep emergency contact numbers for your insurance provider, local authority and utility companies to hand in a safe waterproof place.

Keep a mobile phone with you and check if it is safe before using electricity, gas and water supplies.

Home insurance usually covers well maintained properties damaged from issues resulting from hail, wind, rain, snow or ice, like roof damage, water damage, blocked sewer pipes, frozen pipes, fallen trees and loss of power.

If you have suffered storm damage to your property or contents, don’t do anything that will put you or your household at risk and only return home when it is safe to do so.

Contact your insurance provider as soon as you notice any damage.

It’s worth taking pictures of the damage to support your insurance claim before you begin the process of tidying and clearing up.

It’s also handy – but not essential - to have receipts or proof of purchase for damaged items you wish to claim for.

Finally, if you have home emergency cover (which is provided as standard with One Call home insurance policies) you may be able to arrange for temporary emergency repairs to prevent any damage getting worse.

Please note: you may experience longer waiting times than usual as claims lines are experiencing much higher call volumes. We understand that this can be a stressful process for those of you affected, but please remain as calm and patient as possible.

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