Winds strong enough to cause damage to property are fairly rare in the UK. When a severe weather warning is issued in your area it is a good idea to take some sensible precautions to protect your home and property.
Autumn precautions and maintenance measures to take:
- Check your fences. Most home insurance policies specifically exclude storm damage to fences. So before the autumn weather sets in replace and loose or rotted fence posts, repair panels and replace rotten gravel boards. Ensure all panels are securely fixed to fence posts. It is a good idea to add screw the battens on fence panels as this makes them stronger and prolongs the panel life.
- Make sure that your guttering, drainpipes and overflow pipes clear of debris and leaves and check they are securely attached to the building.
- Regularly inspect your roof for damage, loose or missing tiles and broken or missing pointing and any dislodged lead flashing. Even if it appears minor, ignoring small items like a missing tile may provide a weakness meaning any storm damage is likely to be much more extensive if it is not attended to beforehand.
- Inspect any trees on your own and neighbouring properties. Cut off any branches and dead areas, likely to be dislodged by a storm. Cut down any dead trees. However do not touch and trees that are protected under a tree preservation order but write to the council and ask permission to get a tree surgeon to do the work.
- It is best if the TV aerial is located inside your roof space. If it is not consider this but as a minimum ensure it is securely fixed so that it doesn’t come loose in high winds. Also be sure to check that what it is fixed to is also secure!
Temporary measures to take when a storm is forecast
- Check your home and contents insurance has been paid and is up to date.
- Take photographs of the existing condition of your property, garden and car(s). This will be useful to prove that damage was caused by the storm not a lack of maintenance or wear and tear.
- Lock or bolt your gates. Before the storm arrives, lock or bolt all gates. This will stop the gate opening and banging about during the storm and keeping you awake!
- Tie down wheelie bin lids. Elastic Bungee Cords/Straps (around £1 each from Halfords) are ideal for this. No one would want to wake and discover rubbish all over the garden after a storm.
- Make sure any cars in your household are preferably garaged, but if this is not possible, park cars well away from large trees.
- Move garden furniture and any loose items inside (garage or shed, or if this is not possible move to the most sheltered area of the garden and tie or weigh it down.
- Sweep up and pick up fallen leaves. It may appear counter productive but all those leaves will be spread all over your property after a storm, so it is easier to collect and remove them whilst they are all in one place.
- Put any valuables and important documents in a safe place along with your insurance policies and schedules.
- As a precaution in case of a power cut, charge up mobile phones, torches, buy candles and make sure you have a full tank of hot water. If you have a power cut try to avoid opening the fridge or freezer.
- If you live in an area prone to flooding follow this advice too:
- Finally listen to the radio and TV and follow any advice from the emergency services.
Making an insurance claim if you suffer storm damage
- If you live in a new home under two years old, inform the house builder straight away of any damage and confirm this in writing. Most house builders should attend to minor repairs especially if the trades are still on site.
- If a storm causes damage to your home or business, contact your insurer as soon as possible. Most insurers try to be helpful. Always speak to your insurer FIRST before even clearing up.
- Take photographs of all the damage and loss your are claiming, from several angles before clearing up.
- Check your roof for damage and any loose or dangerous tiles.
- Contact your insurer before arranging any temporary or emergency repairs to make your property weather proof and secure.
- Claim for everything. Even if you are aware you are not covered for fences, claim for them. Insurance companies may appoint a loss adjuster to adjust the cost of your claim downwards and save the insurance company money. By providing something they can reject may mean the remainder of your claim is paid in full.
If you have been affected by storms and need some help and advice on making a claim, most insurers have 24-hour helplines and emergency assistance. Make sure you have your policy schedule and as many details of the damage as possible to hand before calling your insurer. For more information and advice when making an insurance claim.