If you have a complaint following an insurance claim for storm damage, we may be able to help.
Several parts of the UK have been affected recently by storms. If you have experienced loss or damage caused by the storms and need to make a claim on your insurance policy, you should contact your insurer in the first instance.
Home and buildings insurance policies usually offer cover for losses caused by storm damage. If you have made a complaint to your insurer following an insurance claim for storm damage, and remain unhappy with they have said, we may be able to help.
Types of complaints we see
We see a range of complaints following storm damage. We usually get complaints where a claim has been declined because of a dispute about:
- what a storm actually is
- whether the damage was caused by a storm
We also see complaints where a storm damage claim has been accepted but there is a disagreement about, or dissatisfaction with, the repairs.
What we look at
To help us consider a complaint fairly, we’ll ask you to provide some information. We’ll make our decision about what happened using evidence provided by you, the financial business and any relevant third parties. In reaching a decision, we consider:
- the relevant law
- any regulations that applied at the time
- any industry codes of conduct in force at the time
- the terms and conditions of the policy
We say that a storm usually involves violent winds, usually with rain, hail or snow. Sometimes there are storms without high winds. Rain, hail or snowfall by itself can constitute a storm. Any extreme form of bad weather can cause property damage. When a storm damage claim has been refused, we ask three questions:
Do we agree that there was a storm on the date the damage happened?
Is the damage consistent with what we generally see as storm damage?
Were storm conditions the main cause of the damage, or did other factors mean the damage might have happened anyway?
To answer these questions, we’ll take into account:
official weather reports
the condition of the property
information about the storm - for example, what you tell us about the conditions you experienced
We need to make sure there were storm conditions where you live when the damage happened.
Snow, rain and hail storms
Sometimes we get complaints about insurance claims for damage caused by snow, rain or hail. In these circumstances, we consider a storm to be when:
- there are high volumes of snow, rain or hail in a short period of time
- the snow, rain or hail is extreme
Damage to property often happens because of the weight of snow once it’s settled – for example, a collapsed roof. In cases like this we’ll look at whether the damage happened because of the storm or maintenance issues.
We’ll take into account your property’s condition at the time the storm damage happened. To do this we’ll usually look at expert reports and photos. Your insurer will normally ask a surveyor to write a report.
It’s sometimes clear that the property wasn’t in good condition before the storm. This doesn’t always mean the damage wasn’t caused by the storm. We’ll carefully look at all the evidence to decide whether the damage happened because of either the:
- property’s condition
For example, you might claim that your flat roof has been damaged by a storm. We’re unlikely to uphold your complaint if we decide that:
- the roof was already in a bad condition at the time of the storm and you knew about this
- the storm just highlighted an existing problem
Many insurance policies have exclusions for damage caused in certain ways. Exclusions include:
- gradual damage
- wear and tear
If your insurer rejects your claim for these reasons, we’ll work out what the cause of the damage was. The insurer has to prove that the exclusion applies – for example, with an inspection report.
Your insurer may have accepted your claim and arranged to repair the damage. If you’re not happy with the repair, you might complain to us. We’ll treat cases like this in the same way as other complaints about repairs under home or building insurance.
We see cases where it’s reasonable for the insurer to decline a claim under storm damage. In these cases you can sometimes claim under other cover – for example, accidental damage cover. We’d expect your insurer to check all parts of your policy – not just the storm damage part – to see if you’re covered.
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first so they have the chance to put things right. They have to respond within eight weeks. If they don’t respond, or you’re not happy with their response, let us know.
Bringing a complaint to us is straightforward and won’t cost you anything. We’ll check if your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
Putting things right
If we think your insurer has made a mistake or treated you unfairly, we’ll tell them to put things right. The exact details of how we'll ask the business to put things right will depend on the nature of the complaint, and how you lost out. Our general approach is that you should be put you back into the position you'd have been in if the problem hadn't happened.
We’ll also consider whether you’ve experienced any distress or inconvenience as a result of the problem and whether we think it’s appropriate to award compensation.
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The Met Office storm centre has information about UK storms.
Information for financial businesses
You can read more information about storm damage in the business section of our website. This includes technical details and information to help you resolve complaints.