- How can you protect your home against storm damage?
- What to tell your insurer if your home is damaged by a storm
- The potential damage that you could claim on
We shot the breeze with LV= Household Underwriter Jacqui Carter from the home insurance team for answers to the questions weather-worn home owners are likely to have.
What should you do if there is a storm warning in your area?
According to the Met Office's UK Storm Centre, we faced the same number of storms in January as we did for the whole of October, November and December last year.
We are expected to be buffeted by storms Iona, James and Karen, to name just a few, over the coming months.
Thankfully, even before a storm, you can minimise damage to your home with some easy steps:
- Secure all your doors and windows, including on sheds and outhouses
- Put any garden furniture or plant pots inside, if possible
- If there is a flood risk, put any valuable electronics and paperwork out of reach of the ground floor
- Bring pets indoors and out of harm's way
As well as your home, you should also make sure you and any other occupants are safe. You could even put together an emergency kit, so you won't be forced to hazard the storm. Check out a list of recommended items in our flood and storm guide.
You'll also find some useful tips to make your house more weather-proof on that page, including cutting back large branches and clearing your gutters.
You can check for storm warnings on Met Office's website.
If your house is damaged in a storm, what should you tell your insurer when you notify them?
First of all, call them as soon as possible, with all your relevant policy information to hand.
'You need to be able to give your insurer as much information as possible, including when the damage happened, how it happened and exactly what is damaged,' Jacqui urges.
The person on the end of the phone will want to know your situation and where you live, especially if your house has been flooded in the storm.
If you are concerned that you live in a flood-risk area, read our article on how to prepare your home for flooding.
What is likely to be covered by your insurance?
Here's a list of what you could potentially claim on, with Jacqui's quotes revealing what LV= will cover:
Wind damage to the building
'If it's blowing a gale and some tiles come off your roof or your guttering is blown down, the damage is covered by LV=. Storm damage to your windows, guttering and doors is covered by your buildings insurance, as they are part of the structure of your building.
'It's important to remember that home insurance doesn't cover damage caused by wear and tear. You might assume that your insurance covers a leaky roof, but often your roof leak is due to wear and tear – in which case, you would have to pay for any repairs.
'In general, if a storm has damaged your roof and potentially caused a leak, you'd expect to see signs of damage to the exterior, like missing tiles that have been blown off by the wind.'
Potential flood damage
'If the storm results in a flood, we will cover you for any damage caused, except to the plants in your garden.'
Storm damage to plants
'We can't cover your plants – including hedges, trees and lawns – if they're damaged in a storm. However, LV= does cover plants for £1,000 if damaged by fire, lightning, explosion, earthquake, vandalism, impact and theft. There's no cover for your contents in the garden during a storm, however, so make sure you secure any garden furniture or, better yet, take it inside.'
Power outage causing appliances to malfunction (defrosting food in the freezer, for example)
'If there is a power cut and the food in your fridge freezer spoils, we will cover it for up to £500.'
Storm damage to your fences
'If a storm or strong winds blow your fence panels down, there's no cover. Damage to your gates and fences from falling trees or branches isn't covered either.'
Fallen trees damaging the property
'If your tree has come down in high winds and damaged your home then we will pay for any repairs needed and will remove the tree or branch. However, if your home isn't damaged in the process and the tree or branch just lands in the garden we won't pay to have it removed.'
If you are concerned that your home could be damaged in a storm, it's worth considering home emergency cover.
'Customers with our home emergency cover can claim if their roof is damaged by a storm, or they get a sudden leak,' says Jacqui. 'LV= will also pay for an approved repairer to make your home safe if any part of the house's electrics are damaged in a storm.'
The UK generally gets a warning before being buffeted by a storm, but it's near impossible to predict how much damage it will cause. If you live in an at-risk area, stay prepared for storms, especially during the winter months. That could also mean parking your car somewhere safe, as falling branches can break a windscreen just as easily as a window.