Understanding storms in the context of insurance

In November 2020, weather was reported as the seventh most common claim made under Household policies*, although under a Property Owners’ policy, based on our experience, it would likely be in the top three. There are some misconceptions around the cover provided by insurers when it comes to weather, and particularly for storm damage.

Below are 5 simple questions and answers regarding insurance and storm, which help to explain what insurance can cover you for when it comes to storms.

Q. What is the insurance definition of ‘storm’?

A. Many building insurance policies do not define what is meant by ‘storm’; this is in part due to there being caselaw precedent on the subject matter. But the Financial Ombudsman advises that a storm generally involves violent winds, usually accompanied by rain, hail or snow.

However, there can be circumstances where storm damage is caused to property without high winds occurring; this damage could be caused by extremes of other forms of weather, such as snow.

Q. What is not covered under ‘storm’?

A. Defects or damages that have been highlighted by poor weather but have not been caused by it directly, e.g. a flat roof that has reached the end of its useful life and allows water to permeate through it. In this example, storm is not the cause of the damage, it has simply highlighted a pre-existing defect caused by gradual deterioration of the building/material, which is generally excluded under policies as ‘wear and tear’.

Damage where there has been no storm conditions within the local area. Insurers/their representatives will have access to data from weather stations across the country, which supplies them with information such as wind speeds, rain volume etc. so they can get a good understanding of the weather within the area around the time of the loss.

Q. What do insurers consider when reviewing storm claims?

A. The Financial Ombudsman advise on their website that they generally consider the below when assessing complaints brought to them:

  • Do we agree that storm conditions occurred on or around the date the damage is said to have happened?
  • Is the damage claimed for consistent with what we generally see as storm damage?
  • Were storm conditions the main cause of the damage or were there other factors that meant the damage might have happened anyway?

This is also typically how an insurer will consider a claim presented to them; if the claim does not fall for consideration under storm they will also consider if there is another section of the policy that would respond to the claim made.

Q. Insurers have specific conditions around flat roofs, why is this?

A. Flat roofs have historically had a bad reputation in the insurance industry, due to their low life expectancy in comparison to that of a pitched roof. Quite often, bad weather highlights a defect with a flat roof as opposed to being the cause of the defect. This is why certain policies may insert a flat roof maintenance condition, requiring that flat roofs be inspected by a competent contractor within set timescales e.g. every two years.

Q. Most insurers exclude fences, but why?

A. A fence generally, in a good condition, can withstand storm conditions; however, should a fence have started to rot or be in a deteriorated state, it is more prone to damage during storm conditions. Insurers therefore have generally excluded claims for storm damage to fences, gates and movable property in the open. However, the McClarrons Property Investors policy, via AXA, does cover storm damage to fences up to £2,500.

We hope the above guide gives you a basic understanding of how the general insurance market views the storm peril and helps to explain what your policy is likely to cover. If you would like to know more or would like a complimentary review of your insurances, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

As a McClarrons commercial client, you can also benefit from access to the expertise of our in-house claims team, who will guide you through the claims process and offer advice and support on matters such as these.

Contact us on 01653 697055 or at enquiries@mcclarroninsurance.com.   

*https://www.morganclark.co.uk/about-us/blog/uk-home-insurance-claim-statistics/                    

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