Are you covered for what the winter may throw at your home?

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The weather causes millions of pounds worth of insurance claims each year. But the definition of what constitutes bad weather events, such as a storms and the damage these can cause, isn’t cut and dried. Flood

A number of factors come in to play when an insurer is assessing a claim based on weather damage. The key elements are whether a home has been properly maintained, if it’s in fact accidental damage rather than damage caused by a one-off bad weather event, and if the storm or high winds actually should be classed as such in the first place.

Is your home properly maintained?

Most policy terms and conditions make some sort of reference to homeowners being expected to take reasonable steps to protect their property.

Such ‘reasonable steps’ include maintaining a home so that accidents don’t occur which would otherwise have quite easily been avoided when bad weather events hit.

A good example would be a chimney pot. If your chimney pot has been showing signs of age, but you haven’t done anything about it, and the chimney then collapses in a storm, it’s reasonable to assume this might not have happened if it had been maintained properly.

If an insurer then investigates your claim and decides that this was, in fact, the case, then you’re not going to receive any compensation for repair work.

Accidental damage or storm damage

It may seem that damage which comes to light after a storm has hit falls into the category of ‘weather damage’ for insurance purposes.

But the damage might actually be classed as ‘accidental’ by the insurer, in which case you’d need to have accidental damage cover as part of your policy, which many standard home cover policies won’t have.

For example, if high winds have ripped tiles off your roof, it’s likely that the damage will be covered and repair work paid for. But if the storm then blows over, and ‘normal’ rainfall causes water to come through the gaps caused by the loss of tiles, this would be classed as accidental damage, and you couldn’t claim under ‘bad weather’ clauses in your insurance.

What constitutes bad weather?

Again, this is something of a grey area. Heavy rainfall and high winds are, of course, usually elements of a storm. But the speed the wind reaches, where it’s measured compared to local conditions and how much rain falls, will all impact on your claim and if it actually constitutes storm damage.

Heavy snow is a good example. A week of heavy snow might damage a home’s guttering, but this wouldn’t constitute storm damage under weather damage provisions in a standard policy.

In fact, it would be classed as accidental damage as the weather wouldn’t have been bad enough at any one time to merit consideration as exceptional, and therefore allow a claim.

Maintain your home and consider adding accidental damage

While you can’t change the weather, or how it’s measured and the impact this might have on an insurance claim, you can certainly maintain your home properly with regular checks and by carrying out any necessary work promptly and properly.

Additionally, you might want to check if accidental damage is included in your policy and, if not, consider getting it.

The extra cost should only come to around £30 or £40 a year for most policies and will mean you’re far more likely to be able to claim for what you think is ‘bad weather’ damage, even if the insurer decides it’s accidental.

Policy Expert

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.