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

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.

Getting evidence

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.

Hmm.

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.

Shoddy repairs

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.

Verdict

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.

savvymoney.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

    Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS)

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

    Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

    £550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

    Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

    £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?