Weather and storm damage
Storms, floods and serious weather events make headlines in the UK more than ever these days. So much so that we’ve now joined our American friends in naming them. From Storm Aileen to Hurricane Ophelia, it seems we’re becoming increasingly familiar not just with naming conventions, but also the devastating effects of storm damage on our homes and communities.
Frequently asked questions
Are things really getting worse?
A couple of years ago, the Committee on Climate Change warned the UK that it was badly prepared for the impacts of climate change, electrical storms, heatwaves and floods. And while floods grab the headlines for their human impact, storms carry a greater cost – around £1 billion a year.
In 2017, storm Doris saw an increase of 300% in the cost of claims. And the snowfalls and cold temperatures that came with the Beast from the East in late February and early March 2018 resulted in £194 million being paid to help homeowners cope with the misery of burst pipes. This was the highest amount ever paid in a single quarter and compared to only £4 million paid out in quarter 4, 2017, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) figures.
Temperature increases of just a small number of degrees are likely to lead to insurance losses for high winds, which could be 11%, 23% or even 25% higher nationwide, according to analysis for the ABI by AIR Worldwide. The figures are compared with the great storm of 1987, which cost £1.4 billion at the time (allowing for inflation to 2017 costs, this would equal £2.83bn). The temperature rises used for the calculations fall within the long-term projections of what climate change experts expect to happen. This in turn is likely to affect home insurance premiums.
With thousands of homes and businesses affected all over the country, it makes home insurance more important than ever. Whether you've been hit by flooding on multiple occasions, had a near miss or been fortunately sat high and dry, it's always good to know what storm damage insurance you have. It may not be as straightforward as you think.
What is storm and weather damage insurance?
If you have a buildings and contents insurance policy, it will almost certainly cover storm and weather damage. So, if your home is damaged by a storm or bad weather, your insurance provider should cover the costs for the repairs and rehome you while the work is done, if needed.
However, there are some key exclusions and, arguably, some subjective viewpoints that proving the damage was caused by a storm can be challenging. The Financial Ombudsman deals with many disputes surrounding this, and it's not always clear-cut.
Some key things to be aware of:
- What is a storm? You might think some high winds and bad rainfall mean a storm. That might not be the case for all insurance providers. Storms may have an official definition and some insurance providers use weather terminal information in your local area to assess what weather conditions have been present. The Beaufort scale states that light structural damage, like tiles being blown from your roof, could occur at 47+mph winds. Some providers say in their policy books when storm conditions can be considered and this could be at 55+mph winds where the Beaufort scale says structural damage is likely to occur.
- Fences, hedges and gates – they’re typically not covered for damage caused by a storm. Fence panels can be easily damaged due to their wide flat area so be wary if winds get up.
What can I do to protect my property?
There are things you can do to help protect your home:
- keep it maintained and weather tight – remember your insurance policy wouldn’t cover you if your home has been damaged due to wear and tear. It’s your responsibility to make sure your home is maintained in a good condition
- check all pipes regularly and repair any leaks, no matter how small
- make sure your home is properly insulated
- check, clear and maintain gutters
- keep plants and trees that grow near your house under control
- plan ahead – in the event of a storm coming, make sure you shut all your windows and doors, store all garden furniture away and ideally park your car in a garage to protect it from falling tiles or trees. See more on garden cover
- if you do have a problem, contact your insurance provider as soon as you are safe and it’s practically possible.
How do I choose a policy that’s right for me?
We can help you search for the most suitable insurance providers to meet your needs. Start a home insurance quote and we'll ask you some questions about you and your home. For example, because it may affect the price we'll ask you about the type of roof you have. We will ask you about rebuilding costs but if you’re not sure, we can easily help you during the quote process.
Then we'll get you a list of home insurance quotes that suit your needs.
By making sure you're adequately insured with the right policy, you know you’ve done everything you can reasonably do to protect your home and family.
Make sure you choose a suitable insurance in the first place and read the policy thoroughly so you know exactly what you're covered for.