Storms inflict £7.7bn worth of damage on a third of UK property

Source: The Independent

If February 2020 doesn’t go down as the month of the storms, it won’t be for lack of trying. 

With two storms down and another threatening the British Isles, homes and businesses are already counting the cost of  barreling winds and months’ worth of rain. The images of menacing floodwater engulfing villages, towns and cities are swiftly being followed by the scenes of personal devastation that will take months if not years to recover.

A snap poll conducted after Storm Ciara suggests that more than a third of households had experienced some damage to their home or property, ranging from a couple of tiles being blown off rooves to extensive flooding. With each household reporting an average of £750 of damage, and more than a third of the UK’s 27.2 million households affected, the damage caused by Ciara alone could be more than £7.75bn, according to calculations by home interiors business Hillarys. 

The claims made to insurers are likely to be far less, with most households experiencing low levels of damage fixing the problems out of their own pocket. But early indications suggest Ciara alone will be responsible for around £200m worth of losses for homes, cars and businesses impacted by the storms, according to Mohammad Khan, general insurance leader and partner at PwC, with the full impact of Dennis and, potentially, Ellen still to come in.

“Insurance firms are ready to deal with the additional volume of claims,” says Khan. “This should mean that these companies are able to make short-term partial payments – for example when homeowners need alternative accommodation. As a general rule, affected policyholders should try to contact their insurers as quickly as possible.” 

With further severe weather predicted for this weekend, thousands more will need to claim on home, contents and car insurance, and experts warn that taking the wrong action in the heat of the moment could not only be dangerous but could also mean losing out on vital repair funds when they are most needed. 

“Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the UK on the weekend, and while the immediate priority is to stay safe and, where necessary, find alternative accommodation, many will soon having to deal with making a claim,” says Lee Griffin, founder and CEO at GoCompare.

“If your vehicle has suffered flood damage, call your insurer as soon as you can and follow their advice on what to do next. You’ll need a fully comprehensive policy to be able to claim for flood damage and even then, you’ll need to check your terms and conditions to see if you’re covered.”

Where flood damage is included, it will typically cover repairs to your car, including your stereo, upholstery and carpets. Your other belongings in the car might also be covered. If they’re not, check your home insurance policy – they could be part of your personal possessions cover.

“If your car has been submerged in flood water, do not try to start it,” Griffin warns. “Drain the water if you can and allow the vehicle to dry out as much as possible.”

Aviva reported five times the typical number of insurance calls on Sunday in the wake of Storm Dennis. And while the number of claims so far are lower for Storm Dennis than Storm Ciara, many more people have been affected by flooding – around 20 per cent of the number of claims so far.

If you’ve been or become a victim of flood damage in your home, ensure everyone is safe before calling your insurer on its 24-hour helpline. Even if you’ve been forced to evacuate, make sure you leave everything as it is, because your insurer needs to agree to pay for any repairs you make before they’re made, unless of course they’re emergency fixes.

“It’s also a good idea to gather evidence by taking photos and getting professional reports on the damage,” Griffin adds. “This will help when consulting a loss assessor, as they’ll be able to tell you and your insurer the extent of the damage and the repairs needed.”

Home insurance policies don’t all have the same cover. Things like alternative accommodation, escape of water from within the home, fences, hedges and gates will be treated differently by each insurer in a flood claim, so it’s important you’re checking the exclusions on your policy. Your insurer will be able to give you the detail on this. For car insurance, unfortunately you won’t find flood damage cover on a third party, fire and theft policy, so those with this level of cover must contact their insurer for their advice before taking any action to address damage.


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