Storm and heavy rain damage is a real problem for homeowners and late summer and early autumn have seen bad weather and floods in some places.
While not as damaging as some of the severe storms seen at the start of the year, the weather has still caused damage across the country and the coming autumn and winter months is likely to bring more.
That makes difficulties in claiming on insurance a hot topic for many of our readers.
Our columnist Helen Dewdney, aka The Complaining Cow, provides some advice for taking out and claiming on your insurance for storm damage and flooding.
Storms can cause major damage to properties and homeowners are advised to have insurance
1) In the first instance put in a claim as quickly as you can. When events like this occur there is naturally an increase in claims, but insurance companies still have the same number of loss adjustors to check properties, so they will be much in demand.
Covid restrictions will make things harder. Inform them over the phone and in writing. They will talk through the process with you.
Tell the insurer of immediate needs, such as any vulnerability, immediate accommodation and payments needed for essentials. Get fans and humidifiers in as soon as you can, if you have been affected by floodwater.
2) The clean up after a storm usually takes a long time and you will want to get started as soon as possible. Mark a line on the walls for the height of the water.
Take photos and video so you have the evidence of your damaged goods that clearly can’t be repaired and may need to be thrown away. It is best to get an agreement in writing from the insurance company for this to save any issues further down the line.
Flooring can trap the water, so get it out as quick as you can, by taking a cutting from the carpet or laminate flooring.
3) If your insurance company refuses to pay out and you feel it should, threaten them with referring the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and if necessary take them to the FOS. It is free to do this, so you have nothing to lose.
The FOS says that in regards to insurance claims for storm damage the most common complaints they get are around what constitutes a storm, whether the damage was caused by the storm and the costs of the repairs.
The FOS uses its own definition of what constitutes a storm and not the insurer’s – ‘a storm generally involves violent winds, usually accompanied by rain, hail or snow.’ For more details see FOS and storm damage.
4) Your insurance company may tell you that you are not covered for something that you were led to believe was included in your policy. For example, storm damage for structure and contents but not being able to claim for contents.
It may be in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 due to a misleading practice and you should take the case to the FOS.
Consumer Fightback: How to get help with your problem
Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, writes This is Money’s Consumer Fight Back column.
Helen can help with your consumer complaints. She will explain how you can gain refunds, repairs, replacements or improved service with advice on how to complain and get results.
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Helen Dewdney, right, runs The Complaining Cow site and has written a best-selling book – she is here to help This is Money readers
If the company fails to act, she will then ask them why and what they plan to do.
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5) Ask your insurer to help protect your property in future when it repairs it, such as raised power sockets, plastic flooring that looks like laminate, raising appliances, air brick covers, concrete flooring with a damp-proof membrane or ceramic tiles and rugs.
6) Getting insurance in an area of high flood risk can be hard, but research is key and worth taking the time to do.
Use comparison websites on the internet and consider trying to go direct, as some may a better deal than those on comparison sites or not appear there.
Taking photos of any damage is very important as you will need to give your insurer evidence
7) When you have undertaken your research and found the cheapest policy that covers all your needs, phone your current company and see if they can beat it.
This is a tactic that often works for other types of insurance, such as motor vehicles, too.
8) Most policies will have an excess which is an amount you will still have to pay for a claim, even though you have insurance. Check the small print.
It would be easy to just go for the cheapest but see what it includes and check the excess and the amount you want to pay if you need to make a claim.
9) Use cashback sites such as TopCashBack, Quidco and Kidstart which will give you money back after you have paid for your policy
10) Check the Flood Re scheme. Set up in 2016, it is funded by insurers through a levy. This provides £180million annually to administer and reimburse insurers in certain flood claim cases.
The insurer is charged a fixed premium based on the Council Tax band of the property, not the flood risk, to keep the price down, with a fixed excess of £250. The insurer is choosing to pass on the flood risk element of the policy to Flood Re.
If you are flooded the insurer will pay the claim and then it will claim from the Flood Re scheme.