You can be forgiven for thinking this is an unusual time of year to be talking about storms. But this week, Storm Francis joined Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis in wreaking havoc for travel and homes across the country, and more heavy rain and wind for many set to come.
With serious flooding problems and storm damage having become a commonplace concern over the past few years it’s understandable to be confused about what your insurance policies may or may not cover should you be affected. We can help you be clear on where to stand if you have to claim – and how to make it as effective as possible.
So first off, are you covered if your car gets damaged in a storm? The good news is that it’s likely you are – but only if you have a fully comprehensive insurance policy. Third party insurance cover does not usually pay out for storm damage.
If you’ve got fully comprehensive cover then you’re probably covered even if your car is damaged by someone else’s property – for example if a neighbour’s roof tile or trees falls on it – or flying debris. Be aware that claiming on your insurance may increase your premium or you may lose any no claims bonus you have (though some insurers do protect this in the event of storm damage).
How to get started if your car is damaged by a storm
If your car has been damaged by flooding
If your car is stationery and has sustained water damage then your policy may cover you.
However, if the water damage occurred because you drove through a flood or a road covered with water, then that’s trickier and there’s every chance you may not be able to claim. This is because insurers can argue that this is negligent and could have been avoided.
Most home insurance policies provide cover for storm damage (such as falling roof tiles) or flood damage to your home as standard if it’s clear you’ve maintained your home. Some policies have emergency helplines for these events, so make sure you have these details in an easy-to-find place.
If you have a contents insurance policy (either combined with your buildings insurance or a separate one) the your belongings are likely to be covered too. Be aware that unless it’s stated on your policy outside ‘furniture’, such as garden furniture, fences or sheds may not be covered.
One thing to be clear on is whether your insurer considers the extreme weather conditions that have damaged your property to be a ‘storm’. In most cases (particularly if they’ve been ‘named’ and publicised) there isn’t much debate, but it’s worth bearing in mind. The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) states that it classifies a storm as violent winds often accompanied by heavy rain, hail or snow – but there are occasions where heavy bouts of these without winds can be classed as a storm.
How to get started if your home is damaged by a storm
If your home has been affected by flooding
Government grants to help people affected by ‘serious’ flooding have been available since last November. Those affected will be able to receive up to £5,000 through the scheme, operated by their local authority, to help protect them from future flooding issues. But for many people, the key word here is ‘future’. Those who are already affected by floods need help right now -and that will usually involve their insurance company.
Insurers are generally good at swinging into action when there’s a flood. They’ll quickly have their loss adjusters on the ground out in areas affected by flooding. Loss adjusters are there to help assess what needs to be done as a priority, along with subsequent repairs and claim issues that arise.
But increasingly, you may not be able get hold of a loss adjuster or there are simply too many people affected for them to respond quickly to all the claims. This is an ongoing challenge but keep trying as your insurer has an obligation to get someone out to you as soon a possible.
When you make a home claim, make sure you explain the impact on you personally. This is particularly important if you’re ill or have a young family and you can’t stay in your property. Your insurer can even help you find (and fund) temporary accommodation if your home needs serious work.
The biggest problem with flood complaints is the time it can take to sort things out. If your property has been structurally damaged, it can take a long time before the property is habitable. During that time, you may find yourself in alternative accommodation for a prolonged period.
Resolver also sees complaints about the contractors the insurer uses to sort out flood damage, from loss adjusters to builders and specialist tradespeople. Don’t forget, your contract is with the insurance company, so if you’re unhappy with a contractor, speak to the insurer.
The most important thing to remember is to keep informed. Flooding claims can be complex and may take a while to resolve fully. So, speak to the insurer, get them to explain to you what they’re doing, confirm their timescales and be certain on whether your property needs to be ‘future proofed’ to prevent problems happing again.
Resolver can help you get your complaint about pretty much anything sorted out for free. Find out more at www.resolver.co.uk