Home insurance claims increase through the winter, when weather can take its toll on your property. It is important, for your peace of mind, to know that you are correctly covered, as this area of home insurance can have a few grey areas.
Knowing that you are sufficiently insured against the costs of weather damage, storm damage, and also accidental damage is vital.
Without a comprehensive home insurance policy, you run the risk of incurring unnecessary costs to repair your property if your claim isn’t valid.
Acts of nature: Storm & weather damage
Most home insurance policies offer some level of storm and weather damage. The difficulty lies though in the Terms & Conditions of individual policies.
If an act of nature occurs and causes damage to your property, this would usually be covered as storm damage. For example, if a storm blows tiles off a well-maintained roof, this should be covered under most home insurance.
However, if heavy rains seeps into your property as a result of wear and tear, or poor maintenance on your behalf, then you may find this isn’t covered.
Wear and tear is typically excluded from most home insurance.
Most, if not all home insurance policies have a condition that your property is well-maintaninted. If you answer “yes” to this question on the application, as most people do, then you need to be confident that you are taking adequate care to maintain your property throughout the year.
Even so, you may be unaware of things like missing tiles, or structural damage. This is why taking comprehensive home insurance, that includes accidental damage, will help fully protect your property.
An insurance broker can help to explain the Terms & Conditions of your chosen policy.
Maintaining your property
Not only will this protect you from having to make a claim for your insurance in the first instance, by weather proofing your property, but also in the event you do have to claim, the insurers shouldn’t have a reason to dispute.
Take action to maintain your property:
Check your pipes and repair dripping taps
Turn off the stop-cock in freezing weather
Check you have the correct insulation in the loft and walls
Check tiles on your roof are secure before a storm is due
If it snows, remove excess snow and ice from your roof, gutters and drains – if safe to do so
Set your heating to come on a few times during the day if you are away from the property, to allow for warm air to circulate in your absence
Ensure drains and guttering are free from blockages
Ensure trees are planted at a safe distance away from property or parking spaces
Keep fences and walls maintained
Secure windows and doors
Take care of garden furniture and ensure it is secure in the event of high winds
Park cars in the garage, or away from areas that could cause damage
Acts of God
Acts of God are a difficult to define and are generally detailed as something outside of human control.
Some insurers may classify a storm, a flood or a lightening strike as an act of God, which provides them with a possible loophole to process claims.
Ensure that you are fully covered to protect you against all possible outcomes.
As with any insurance policy, you need to read the Terms & Conditions carefully to ensure that you will have sufficient cover to meet your needs.
Check if your policy offers accidental damage, or even better is on an “All Risks” basis, as this may be an optional add-on to your basic policy, which is essential to cover as many incidents as possible.
Having this provision in place could be crucial when dealing with a claim for weather and storm damage, as it is better to have all angles covered.
Disputing a claim decision
The Financial Ombudsman Service sometimes has to deal with disputes, so if you process a claim and it is declined, then there are options available.
The best course though is to protect and maintain your property throughout the year, plus ensure you are correctly insured.