In 2004, the insurance industry estimated that about 45% of their settled claims were for damages caused by weather. This past January, that percentage climbed as high as 60%, with a possible £300 million worth of damages being claimed by homeowners for weather related incidents.
Is your home covered against damage from high winds? Will your insurance company pay out to repair damage caused when your plumbing freezes? How much will you have to pay out of pocket for repairs if heavy snow takes out your rain gutters or damages your roof?
If you’re not sure of the answers to those questions, it might prove enlightening to pull out your home insurance policy and have a read. According to an industry spokesman, too many homeowners find out what their buildings insurance does and doesn’t cover after they have incurred a loss and submitted a claim. That’s the case for many homeowners who suffered damage to their homes during the high winds of the past January who found, to their shock, that they’d be bearing the brunt of the repair bills from their own pockets.
In fact, the most recent figures suggest that over one third of homeowners have no home insurance at all, and many more are paying out for policies that don’t adequately cover the damages that they might face from adverse weather.
Home insurance policies vary widely on precisely what weather damage they cover, and how much you’re expected to pay out before the insurance company will pay its share. That’s why it’s important to sit down with your policy or your broker – or both – to discuss precisely how much coverage you have for weather-related damages, and if there are limits and exclusions to that cover. Some of the most common exclusions and limits include:
Damage from floods
If you live in an area with a high possibility of flooding, you may need to purchase separate cover to deal with damage from flooding. It’s vital that you not neglect this, say insurance spokesmen. The cost of repairing damage after a flood can easily run to £30,000 or more. Compare that to the average weather related claim of about £500.
Water damage from burst pipes
Watch for limits on the amount of damages you can claim if your pipes freeze and burst. A burst pipe in your loft can quickly damage walls and ceilings, and result in unhealthy growth of mold and mildew if not cleaned properly. The cost of all those repairs can easily and quickly mount above typical limits on damages.
If you only have buildings insurance, you may find yourself out of luck when damage to your roof results in the destruction of your expensive draperies, carpets and furnishings. Even if you carry cover for your home contents, you may want to carry extra insurance if you own expensive items like Oriental rugs or fine artwork.
Outdoor and garden items
Many policies only cover items inside your home from weather damage, while other policies will even pay to replace plants damaged by storms in severe weather. If you’re an avid gardener, or have outdoor patio and yard equipment, consider a policy that includes garden cover.
Be sure to review your policy periodically to be certain that you’ve kept it up to date, especially when you make new purchases or add an extension to your home.