Savvy Money: Harsh truth – your storm cover may not protect you from a rainy day
But be prepared to make waves if you think an insurer is wrong to reject your damage claim
Saturday 18 January 2014
The stormy weather and tidal surges of a few weeks ago seem to have abated, but not surprisingly insurers are reporting a sharp increase in the number of claims they're getting (one insurer reported a six-fold increase in storm damage claims at the end of 2013).
While storm damage claims can be relatively cheap, flooding claims often aren't and, in some cases, sorting out your insurance claim may not be straightforward.
Was it a storm?
The first problem is that your insurer may not think a storm has taken place at all - there's no industry-wide definition of what constitutes a storm.
Some insurers' starting point is to say that a storm has only taken place if the wind reached a certain speed; normally force ten on the so-called Beaufort scale. However, it's rarely that simple.
And even if the wind near you is "storm force" it may not be easy proving it.
Insurers often check regional weather stations, which may be some distance away from your property.
If your insurer is disputing that a storm has taken place, find out if your neighbours' properties have been damaged.
However, evidence of damage to nearby properties isn't on its own enough to guarantee an immediate payout.
A while ago I had an email from someone living in a block of flats where a communal chimney was damaged: two insurers decided a storm had taken place, while another said there was no storm.
Storm damage complaints
The Financial Ombudsman Service, which takes complaints from consumers who've already complained to their insurer or bank and have been unhappy with the outcome, says it receives around 350 complaints about buildings and contents insurance every month and half of those relate to storm damage.
Most complaints are from people whose insurer didn't think a storm took place, but others get in touch because their insurer doesn't believe the storm caused the damage being claimed for.
Wear and tear or storm damage?
Disputes like this can be hard to resolve. Insurers may ask for evidence that a property has been properly maintained. Tricky, as homes don't need to have an annual MoT or service.
If you're the kind of person who checks the roof for loose tiles regularly and makes sure the guttering and windows are up to scratch, keep a record of what you've done when. Or keep receipts if you've paid for maintenance.
Even if damage wasn't caused by a storm, an insurer may pay out on one part of your policy but not on another.
For example, you could have a successful claim for damage to your home's contents as a result of a storm (for example, water damage to carpets and furniture which you could claim for under the accidental damage part of your policy) but not for the damage to the roof itself.
Even if your insurer does pay out quickly and without a quibble, you may not be home and dry (sorry!) just yet.
Some insurers work with a panel of approved contractors while others will ask you to get quotes from two or three local traders.
Do bear in mind that if you use a contractor suggested by your insurer, the insurer is responsible for making sure the work is carried out to a satisfactory standard.
If you insist on using your own trader it may be down to you and the trader to sort out any disagreement about the standard of work.
Storm claims may not be straightforward, but don't accept the view of your insurer if you think they're in the wrong. Challenge what they've said and, if you don't get anywhere, take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
But before taking your case to the Ombudsman, you need to have exhausted the internal complaints procedures of your insurer.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe in bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Hitler’s food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...
£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...
Day In a Page
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony