Does home insurance cover storm damage? Are replacement fences and roof tiles covered - policies explained

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After 3 major storms in under week, including Storm Franklin, many homes have suffered from wind and flooding damage

The UK has just endured a week of severe storms that have brought extreme windy weather and flooding to many parts of the country.

Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin have all wrought havoc across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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With the last of these storms now dying down and the clean up operation underway, households across the country are beginning to take stock of the damage the weather has caused to their homes.

So, if your house has suffered storm damage, will your home insurance cover it?

Here’s what you need to know.

Home insurance almost always covers storm damage - but with important caveats (image: Getty Images)Home insurance almost always covers storm damage - but with important caveats (image: Getty Images)
Home insurance almost always covers storm damage - but with important caveats (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Does home insurance cover storm damage?

While most buildings and contents insurance policies will cover you for storm damage, there are a few key caveats to note.

First off, insurers will often have a specific definition for what a storm actually is.

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The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - a public body which resolves disputes between consumers and financial businesses, like insurers - defines a storm as: “[Weather that] generally involves violent winds, usually accompanied by rain, hail or snow."

But it adds that in some cases a storm can take place “without there being high winds”.

This definition can be treated as a baseline for what storm damage insurance will cover.

The UK has been hit by 3 powerful storms in just a few days (image: Getty Images)The UK has been hit by 3 powerful storms in just a few days (image: Getty Images)
The UK has been hit by 3 powerful storms in just a few days (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Some insurers define storms in more specific detail in the small print of your policy.

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It means they will sometimes dispute whether you’re eligible for storm damage insurance.

Usually, these definitions will set out a particular wind speed above which the insurer will classify the weather as a storm, for example if the wind goes higher than 54mph.

Other providers may judge a storm by the Beaufort Scale - the yardstick used by the Met Office to describe wind speed.

If the insurance company does use this as the basis for its definition of a storm, it will be looking for wind speeds to hit at least 10 on the Beaufort scale, i.e. winds of 55mph or more.

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What is covered by storm damage insurance?

Another key caveat to consider for storm damage insurance cover is the extent to which you are covered by your provider.

Most policies should cover any significant damage to your property that’s been caused by a storm, for example broken roof tiles.

Some insurers will not cover outbuilding or outdoor belongings for storm damage (image: AFP/Getty Images)Some insurers will not cover outbuilding or outdoor belongings for storm damage (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Some insurers will not cover outbuilding or outdoor belongings for storm damage (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

But some insurers might not cover outbuildings, like sheds or greenhouses, or outdoor items, such as fences and garden furniture, in their standard building and contents cover.

If you have any doubts about whether or not your outdoor belongings are covered, it’s worth checking your policy’s fine print and ensuring portable items are either stowed away or secured if a storm’s coming.

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Home maintenance

A final caveat to bear in mind with insurance against storm damage is home maintenance.

Insurers could refuse your claim if you have not taken simple steps to keep your house in a good state of repair - a requirement that appears in most home insurance policies.

For example, if your roof has been damaged in a storm and, during an inspection, the insurer finds your roofing was already in a bad state of repair, you might not be eligible for cover.

So, it’s vital you undertake basic maintenance tasks, like checking your gutters every few months or inspecting your roof space for water damage, to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of being covered.

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This maintenance can even include gardening, if you have any large or creeping vegetation in your garden that could cause damage to your home.

What to do if your home has storm damage

If your home has been damaged in a storm, Confused.com has given four top tips for how to make sure your claim goes through as smoothly as possible.

  1. Get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible - They can give you more advice, or have specific requests to help them process a claim
  2. Make a thorough inspection of your home - Photograph and record any damage your house has suffered as soon after the end of the storm as possible. Take note of the date and time.
  3. Keep hold of damaged items - Your insurer might want to look at the extent of the damage, and these will provide proof
  4. If you have to, sort out emergency temporary repairs - Let your insurance provider know about it if you do this and make sure you keep hold of all receipts and invoices. You might be able to add these to your claim.

Storm and flood damage claims could take a bit of time to resolve as the insurer might need to investigate the damage.

Storm damage insurance claim disputes

Given insurance firms can sometimes have a specific definition of a storm and/or a limit of what kind of damage is covered in their policies, your insurer might dispute your storm damage claim.

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If this happens, it’s worth digging out your home insurance policy to check the specific wording relating to storm damage.

Should you feel like your insurance provider is being unreasonable in not covering you and you have tried every avenue to resolve it with them, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service for advice.

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