Preparing your home before a storm

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Preparing your home before a storm

When the weather takes a turn for the worst, storms can cause havoc.

From loose roof tiles to smashed windows or broken TV aerials, there are lots of ways a storm can cause damage. But with a little preparation you could help to reduce the potential for damage – and save yourself some money and some stress in the process.

Before a storm

  • Take care of the trees. Contact your Local Authority to see if any trees are protected first, but remove any loose or overhanging branches from trees that could cause damage. And if you know a storm’s coming, it’s worth putting your car in a garage or somewhere relatively safe, away from tall trees completely.
  • Get the garden ready. Secure or lock away loose objects in your outside spaces like garden furniture, bikes, ladders and children’s toys.
  • Batten down the hatches. Fasten all your doors and windows securely. Remove the aerial from your TV in case of an electrical storm, and don’t be tempted to use computer equipment as an alternative – even surge protectors can fail.
  • Lose the loose tiles. If you have loose tiles on the roof, think about getting these secured before the storm hits. Most insurance providers will expect you to keep your home in a good state of repair, anyway, for their policies to remain in force.
  • Clear out your gutters. It’s worth doing this at least once a year to stop rainwater overflowing and damaging plasterwork.
  • Secure weak fences and posts. If your fence blows away, you don’t want it to cause damage to any other parts of your property (or anyone else’s).
  • Check aerials or satellite dishes. It might not be practical to do this yourself, but if you have any doubts and do have the time, it could be worth getting someone in to check they’re nice and secure.
  • Check your contents and buildings insurance is up to date. No matter how careful you are, there’s always the risk that a storm will cause damage to your car or property – so it’s important you have the right kind of insurance in place.
  • Most buildings insurance policies will cover you for storm damage. But it’s unlikely that they’ll pay out for damaged fences. Check your policy for details.
  • Make sure you are only claiming for something that is a direct result of the storm, and not because of poor home maintenance. Your insurer will take general wear and tear into account before making a decision on your payment.
  • If your car is damaged by a falling tree, you’ll need comprehensive insurance in place as third party fire and theft insurance doesn’t usually cover this sort of damage.

After the storm

Don’t panic. If you’ve been affected by a storm, then you’re probably feeling worried about physical damage to your property.

Where to start…

  • First of all, be careful. Even before you think about making a claim for damage to your property, you want to minimise the risks to yourself. If your property’s suffered physical damage, try not to stand too close to walls when you go outside. See what damage has been done and check for fallen roof tiles from a safe distance.
  • Get in touch with your insurer. Insurers know they’re likely to get calls after storms, so you’ll be talking to people who are prepared for your questions.
  • Check your cover. If power lines have come down and you have no electricity, it’s not likely your insurer will provide alternative accommodation unless there’s damage to your actual building. But you may find that you are covered for loss of food from fridges and freezers.
  • Make a list and take pictures of anything that’s damaged – it helps insurers to process claims more smoothly.
  • Keep receipts for any emergency repairs you make like new panes of glass or roof repairs. Your insurance company will probably want you to get their agreement on making repairs before you go ahead, but be practical: you don’t want a bad situation to get worse, jut because you can’t get through on the phone, perhaps.

What sort of damage do storms cause?

Here are a few of the common ways a storm can affect your property:

  • Roof tiles. These are easily blown off in severe weather, and gutters or fascias could also be damaged.
  • TV aerials or satellite dishes. These may be covered by your insurance and can often come down in high gales.
  • Broken glass. If you have a conservatory, outhouses or a greenhouse, you may have smashed windows to contend with. If you’re confident about it as a job you’ve done before perhaps, then you could take steps to remove glass carefully.
  • Trees falling down and damaging buildings. If your neighbour’s tree falls and causes damage to your property, then your neighbour will probably have to claim on their insurance. But do be aware that, if you don’t act appropriately – for example, getting a tree trimmed if it’s clear that it’s diseased and could cause damage – then you could be considered negligent (and your neighbour may want to claim from you).
  • Boundary walls. Your policy probably won’t cover fences, gates or hedges but it may well cover boundary walls blown down by stormy weather, as long as they’ve been kept in good condition up to that point.
Brady Burns Insurance Brokers.