Three storms – Henk, Isha and Jocelyn – have already hit our shores, marking a tumultuous start to 2024, and January is not even over yet.
Storms and other natural disasters, such as floods, can inflict devastating damage on your property, whether it’s making it uninhabitable due to water damage or strong winds and rain destroying it entirely.
If a storm or flood has damaged your home, it can be stressful trying to figure out how to claim.
We reveal how a home insurance policy can help and how to make a claim.
Severe weather, such as storms and floods, can cause significant damage to your home.
Home insurance can be pivotal to repairing your property as an insurer will likely cover most of the costs.
While making an insurance claim can be stressful, the process is straightforward.
Getting the right home insurance policy and financial advice can help you prepare for the unexpected.
What is home insurance?
Home insurance usually consists of two parts: contents and buildings insurance.
Contents insurance will typically cover your belongings, while buildings insurance covers the structure of your property, so it’ll cover any costs to repair the structure and any fittings.
Buildings insurance will usually cover damage made in a natural disaster. This protection also applies to any outbuildings or garages.
What does contents insurance cover?
You can protect your belongings, including clothes, furniture and any electrical items, from damage by fire, water or lightning with contents insurance.
This will also cover your content if they are stolen or vandalised.
You may also be able to get your belongings covered for accidental damage.
Whether you rent or own your home, contents insurance is always worth having in case the worst happens.
Contents insurance is something you’ll always need to arrange yourself.
You’ll need to accurately calculate the estimated value of your belongings, including any high-value items, and let your insurer know.
What does buildings insurance cover?
Buildings insurance pretty much covers anything that is fitted in your home and the structure, from natural or manmade disasters, subsidence or vandalism.
So, for example, damage caused by earthquakes, fires, floods and lightning strikes should be covered.
Your property’s walls, roof, ceilings, doors and windows would be covered, as well as fitted kitchens and bathrooms and built-in wardrobes and cupboards.
You may also be able to get accidental damage coverage in your policy for windows, doors, and certain fittings.
If you rent your property, your landlord should have buildings insurance in place.
However, if you own your own home, it’s usually mandatory if you’re buying with a mortgage.
How do I make a claim on my home insurance?
Before you make a claim on your insurance, make sure you and your family are safe.
If you smell gas, contact the emergency line at National Gas at 0800 111 999 – you can call this number anytime.
Had an unexpected power cut? Call the emergency power cut helpline 105 to be connected to your distribution network operator.
Now, you need to contact your home insurance provider as soon as possible to make a claim.
As some policies may include alternative accommodation if your property is unliveable, claiming swiftly can be hugely beneficial.
The best and fastest way to make a claim is online or via your insurance provider’s app, although it’s worth talking to your insurer on the phone first.
You need to explain what happened, write a list of what has been damaged or lost, and provide evidence such as photos or videos.
It’s vital that you keep any documents and evidence somewhere safe.
It’s not wise to throw any belongings away in case these need to be assessed by your insurance provider.
What if I need emergency repairs to my home?
Your insurance provider should be able to send someone out to fix the issue – you shouldn’t attempt any repairs yourself.
If they can’t fix the issue quickly, you should contact a qualified contractor and keep any receipts of any work done.
Your insurance provider may ask for a quote for any repair work from a qualified contractor.
If the damage is extensive, your insurance provider may use a loss assessor to determine priority work and the necessary repairs, as well as a settlement figure. This is how much they’ll pay to cover your claim.
Your insurance provider should let you know the scale of the repairs, how long it will take and cover which contractors will be used (these should be pre-approved) and the best way to secure your home.
They may be able to provide alternative accommodation if it’s part of your policy.
Can I get alternative accommodation if my home is unliveable?
As mentioned, most home insurance policies should offer alternative accommodation, although you may need to pay extra in some cases to add this to your coverage.
As home insurance coverage varies, it’s wise to check the maximum amount that you can claim for alternative accommodation and whether there are any restrictions.
Your insurer will try to offer you a similar type of property to stay in long-term or, in short-term cases, a hotel. This will often be in an area nearby, but this may not be possible if the whole area has been flooded.
If you do incur a lot of extra costs due to where your new accommodation is, you can request your insurer reimburses you. Make sure to keep hold of any receipts.
Can I get compensation for no electricity in my home?
You can receive up to £2,000 in compensation if your electricity has been cut off due to severe weather – and this should be offered automatically by your network operator.
If they don’t get in touch, you should call them, and if any compensation is refused, you should file a complaint and then contact the Energy Ombudsman if this is unresolved.
Ofgem has two categories for storms, which are one and two and is based on the severity.
Under ‘storm category one,’ you get £80 if your electricity has been cut off for 24 hours, plus an extra £40 for every six hours afterwards.
With ‘storm category two,’ you’ll receive £80 if your power is cut off for 48 hours and get an extra £40 for every six hours afterwards.
What if I’m not happy with my insurer?
If you’re not happy with how your complaint is being handled, you can file a complaint with your insurer.
If they fail to resolve your issues, you can then use the free Financial Ombudsman Service, which can make your insurer resolve your issue.
What if I want a new contractor?
You should contact your insurer if you’re unhappy with the quality of work from your contractor, explaining clearly why.
Before you call, it’s a good idea to get some quotes from other qualified contractors, which will help your case if you want a new contractor.
Need help preparing for the unexpected?
Life is unpredictable, but preparation is key. An insurance broker can help you find the best home insurance policy for your unique circumstances.
You can also ensure your finances are in the best shape possible and prepare for the future, whether it’s starting your investment journey or planning for retirement.
Unbiased can quickly connect you with a financial adviser regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, who’ll recommend the best course of action based on your money goals.