Storm and weather damage insurance
Most buildings insurance will cover you against storm damage – but what counts as storm damage differs by insurer, so protection isn’t always as guaranteed as you might think.
To help make things clearer – here are the answers to some frequently asked storm damage insurance questions.
Does house insurance cover storm damage?
In short – yes, your home insurance will give you some protection if your home is damaged by storms or bad weather but check your policy’s wording for any limitations and exclusions.
If you have buildings cover, then this should compensate you for damage done to the structure and permanent fixtures and fittings of your home – this includes internal and external walls, chimneys and windows and doors. It also includes bathroom suites and kitchen cupboards.
To make sure your belongings are covered, you’ll need to have contents insurance – this covers the cost of damage done to your furniture and appliances, like sofas, curtains, carpets and your washing machine.
What is the definition of a ‘storm’?
Some insurers use the Beaufort Scale which measures wind speed and ranks it from one to 12 (with 12 being hurricane level) to define a storm.
Other insurers use the more general definition employed by the Financial Ombudsman Service of “violent winds, usually accompanied by rain, hail or snow”.
However, the ombudsman service (who resolve disputes between policyholders and insurers) also recognises that storm damage can happen even when there are no high winds.
Storm damage or accidental damage?
Not all claims for storm damage are clear cut and some incidents could be classed as ‘accidental damage’ instead.
For example, if a tree fell on your roof because of “violent winds” then it could be classed as storm damage because your roof was destroyed as a direct result of bad weather.
If the winds only loosened branches that didn’t fall until a week later, then any damage caused by those fallen branches might be classed as ‘accidental damage’ rather than ‘storm damage’.
This is because the branches did not fall as a direct result of the storm – although they might have been made loose, they could also have fallen simply because they became unstable.
If this was the case, then you could claim only if you had accidental damage cover as part of your home insurance.
Storm damage or an ‘act of God’?
In the past, ‘Acts of God’ were things that insurers didn’t cover. They still don’t pay out for damage that arises over time, wear and tear, or general deterioration.
Insurers only pay out for a specific incident which, in their terminology, means damage arising from an insured peril. Most insurance providers now specify a whole range of perils in their policies, which could include lightening, floods or storms.
Ultimately, the definition of ‘storm damage’ is open to interpretation so it’s really important to read your policy’s small print to make sure you’re completely happy with all the terms and conditions.
Insurance providers are now required to offer, for free, a summary of their cover which lists ‘the perils’ and ‘what’s not covered’. This is called an Insurance Product Information Document (IPID).
So, if you don’t fancy reading the whole policy, have a look at the IPID. We want to make it easy for you to understand the cover on offer, which is why all the providers that mustard.co.uk works with automatically provide IPIDs.
How does wear and tear affect storm damage insurance claims?
Insurers can refuse storm damage claims if they feel a property hasn’t been well maintained.
For example, if your home already had loose or broken tiles and you wanted to make a claim because a storm had ripped them off, the insurer could reject the claim. They could suggest that poor maintenance and wear and tear was the root cause of the falling tiles – not the bad weather.
The same goes if you were to make a claim for flooding or water damage – insurers could reject the claim if they feel your home wasn’t properly waterproofed or if gutters were overflowing with debris.
How do I make a claim?
If your home’s been damaged by storms or bad weather, the first thing you’ll need to do is contact your insurance provider.
If you can, take photos to show them what it was like and then be careful when you clean or tidy up because you won’t be covered for any further damage that occurs. You’ll also need to keep damaged property to one side to show the insurers.
Your insurer might send a loss adjustor to assess the damage and work out how much it’s likely to cost to fix. Some insurers will ask you to get a few quotes for the repair work while others will send in their own contractors – but check before you do anything.
If you do make a claim but it’s rejected and you want to appeal, you need to make a complaint to your insurer. They should have someone outside of their claims department review the claim.
After that, if you are still unhappy, you can go to the Financial Ombudsman Service for help.
How to prevent weather damage
Wear and tear is the reason why a number of claims are rejected so it’s a good idea to carry out all those maintenance jobs before bad weather sets in, for example:
• Insulate pipes – it’s not just about keeping garden taps protected from frost. Pipes in attics are also exposed to extreme temperatures, so make sure you minimise the risk of freezing and bursting by keeping them covered.
• Insulate walls and attics – not only will your home be protected from frost, but insulation makes it more energy efficient and could save you money on your heating bills.
• Clear gutters – falling leaves, moss and garden debris can clog gutters causing rainwater to spill over and potentially damage walls so make sure they’re clear after autumn.
• Check roof tiles – if you can, check for loose or broken roof tiles, strong winds could whip them up and cause more damage which you might not be covered for.
• Put away garden furniture – store garden chairs and tables so they can’t be blown around, also think about toys – trampolines can be lifted off the ground and blown several feet so make sure they’re secured.
• Check fences and sheds – not all home insurance policies will cover damaged sheds or fences so make sure they’re in good condition and check your documentation so you know what’s covered.
Who’s responsible for storm damage repairs in a rental?
If you’re a landlord, your landlords buildings insurance should compensate you for any storm damage done to the structure of the property – as well as permanent fixtures and fittings (like doors and bathroom suites).
If you provide some furniture, electrical appliances or soft furnishings (like carpets and curtains), then you should ensure you have landlord contents insurance too as this should cover what you have provided to your tenant.
Tenants are responsible for insuring their own belongings – so if they have their own TV, electrical appliances and furniture, they’ll need to arrange their own cover.
If they don’t have adequate insurance and their possessions are ruined by storm or weather damage, landlords can’t be held responsible.
Getting a storm insurance quote
Storm damage insurance should be included within your buildings and contents policies but you should check your documentation to understand what is and isn’t covered.
Looking to renew your home insurance and want to make sure you’re properly protected and getting the best ‘new business’ prices? Searching online with mustard.co.uk lets you easily and quickly compare features and prices from a range of different providers at the same time.
If you’d prefer to get a quote over the phone instead, you can speak to a friendly member of the team on 0330 022 4684.