When it comes to a storm damage home insurance claim, insurers don’t have any official definition of what counts as a storm. So, if your property is damaged in a storm, will your insurer pay up?
Storm damage home insurance claim
While household insurance will pay for damage caused by a storm, it won’t cover the costs of damage during ‘normal’ rough weather. So what happens if you and your insurer don’t agree and how can you get your claim paid?
If you’re claiming for storm damage an insurer will look at several factors, such as:
- The weather report from the nearest weather station. If that reports that a storm has struck, it should help your claim.
SAVVY TIP: The problem is that some storms can be very localised and the nearest weather station may be some distance from where you live.
- Whether other properties nearby have suffered from (similar) damage. The insurer is less likely to query your claim if other properties were damaged at the same time.
SAVVY TIP: Just because your property suffers from damage and your neighbours’ homes don’t doesn’t mean it wasn’t caused by a storm, but it could be taken into account.
- Wind speeds. Some insurers will only pay out if wind reaches a certain speed on what’s called the ‘Beaufort scale’, which categorises wind speeds on a scale of 1-12. Insurers may say that a storm only occurs if the wind reaches a speed of 9 or 10 on this scale.
SAVVY TIP: The Financial Ombudsman Service, a free to use and independent complaints service, says that a storm can occur without high winds and disagrees with those insurers that insist on a wind speed of force 10 or above before they’ll pay out.
Making an insurance claim for storm damage
If you’re making a claim for storm damage, you should be asked for information about the damage and how and when it occurred. You may not know the answer – perhaps because you were away. However, what information you do have could help your claim.
SAVVY TIP: If you bought your insurance from an insurance broker, they can help you with your claim, especially chasing up the insurer or fighting your corner if your claim is turned down.
If your storm damage home insurance claim are refused
If your storm damage home insurance claim is turned down by your insurance company, that’s not necessarily the end of the story. You should tell them why you believe your claim should be paid out (or get your broker to do this, if you have one).
Here are some ways to back up your claim:
- Get evidence of damage to nearby properties. Just because other properties have been damaged doesn’t mean your insurer has to pay your claim but it should strengthen your case.
- Get evidence of maintenance you’ve carried out. It can be hard to show that your property was in a good state of repair but if you’ve had any maintenance work carried out recently that’s relevant to your claim, it’s worth providing details.
SAVVY TIP: The condition of the property can be a particular problem with things like flat roofs which have a limited lifespan. If you have a flat roof replaced, keep the paperwork in case you need to make a claim.
Be prepared to take things further
Don’t give up if your claim has been rejected. The Association of British Insurers, which represents most of the big insurance companies, says you should get evidence of damage to other properties or that other insurers have paid for damage to neighbouring properties.
If that doesn’t work you should:
- Make a formal complaint. Do this in writing. Mark your letter or email ‘formal complaint’ and state what you would like the insurer to do.
- Give the insurer time to respond. The insurer must respond within eight weeks and tell you whether they agree with you and will pay out, disagree or want more time to look into your complaints.
- After eight weeks you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Even if the insurer hasn’t decided whether or not it agrees with you, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Although it’s free for consumers to use the insurer will have to pay a fee once you’ve made a complaint.
When your storm damage home insurance claim may be rejected
Your household or contents policy may not pay out if you make a storm damage home insurance claim and:
- Snow damage happened over several days. For example, if heavy snow were to fall for several days, damaging your roof, your insurance policy wouldn’t pay out under storm damage cover.
SAVVY TIP: The above example shows that the policyholder could have claimed for damage caused by the snow under an accidental damage section of his policy (if he had taken it out). If, for example, you had water damage from bad weather conditions, an insurer may pay out for the cost of putting right the damage caused by the water (such as ruined internal walls or wallpaper), but not the repair to the roof etc itself. However, not all policies with accidental damage pay out on this basis.
- A storm isn’t the main reason for the damage. The Financial Ombudsman Service will look at when damage (such as water leaking from a damaged roof etc) occurs and how localised it is. If it doesn’t think that a storm is the main cause it won’t force the insurer to pay out.
- If only fences and garden sheds etc are damaged. Insurance will cover buildings (such as the house and garage) against storm damage but fences or walls may not be insured for storm damage unless the house is damaged at the same time.
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