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Weather warnings: Avoid home insurance problems

Cracked window caused by a stormHomeowners should make sure their properties are well maintained to avoid home insurance claims being turned down.

With unseasonably stormy weather currently affecting much of the UK, insurers are bracing themselves for a spike in claims for damage related to rain, flooding and high winds.

Weather warning

This week the Daily Express reported predictions made by Vantage Weather Services forecaster Jonathan Powell: he has claimed that Britain could face five months’ worth of rain by the end of June.

Powell added that the UK would be unlikely to see truly summery weather until September.

His comments followed a 54-hour severe weather warning issued by the Met Office late on Thursday night.

Claims rejected

Widespread bad weather is likely to lead to an increase in the number of home insurance claims for property damage.

But many buildings insurance customers do not realise that claims can legitimately be turned down if a lack of home maintenance has contributed to any damage.

A recent report from insurer Legal & General found that 15 per cent of homeowner never carried out basic maintenance checks, while 10 per cent of people were delaying maintenance work due to cost.

A spokesman said: “Consumers don’t necessarily really understand the important implications there might be for their home insurance cover if regular checks and repairs are not made.”

For example, if water damage to a property resulted from guttering being blocked, an insurer could turn down a claim on the basis that the customer should have ensured his gutters were in good working order.

Wet-weather tips

Chris Rainbow, a surveyor at Merlin Surveying Services, spoke to to offer some advice on how to prepare a home for wet and stormy weather.

He says:

  • Guttering can be a major cause of leaks: check for any discolouration behind the downpipe, as this can suggest a blockage.
    Wait until it is raining and have a look – you’ll be able to see if it is blocked.
    If a gutter is blocked, the water can back up into the roof and seep down into the walls internally.
  • If you have trees near your property, there’s a chance their leaves may fall into your guttering and cause blockages.
  • Make sure the shoe at the bottom of any drainpipe is facing away from your property.
  • Check the lead flashings around your chimney: if any are missing, water could get in. If this leads to damage, your insurer could say that you had failed to maintain the house, and turn down your claim.
  • Make sure there is no mis-alignment of drains, resulting in water running down the side of your house.

Watch our video on what to look for when doing maintenance checks.

Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris


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