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It was all #Doris’ fault

The country woke this morning to start assessing the damage caused by Storm Doris. My own shed roof and the roof of my daughter’s playhouse was strewn around the garden but everything seems to be accounted for and no major damage was caused.

However, there will also be those who have suffered more substantial damage, i.e. fallen trees, damaged roofs and cars. Such repairs could be expensive and many people will be hoping claims will be covered by insurance.

What does your insurance cover?

Generally speaking damage caused by a storm would be considered to be caused by an ‘Act of God’ and so most domestic insurance policies will cover these claims though some policies may exclude specific items, such as sheds, fences or driveways, which will leave homeowners to meet the costs of these repairs. In addition, if you do not have comprehensive car insurance you may find that damage caused to your own car will not be covered by your insurance. The Association of British Insurers (‘ABI’) has issued advice for people looking to make claims to their insurers.

However, there are some reasons why an insurer might decline a claim. If a tree fell because it was diseased or neglected (and was likely to fall in any event) then an insurer may refuse a claim. This is because the owner knew, or ought to have known, that the tree was likely to fall. In such circumstance the owner of the tree will be liable for the damage that has been caused. The same argument applies if someone has failed to maintain their property, for example their roof, which led to it becoming damaged or causing damage.

According to the ABI the estimated total costs of the storms and floods over the 2015/2016 Christmas and New Year is £1.3 billion so insurers will be keen to minimise their outgoings as far as they are able. However according the figures published by the ABI last year, 79% of claims against home insurance policies were met. The main reasons claims were refused was due to a failure to maintain.

Making a claim on your insurance

As with any insurance claim evidence is key, so anyone who has sustained damage and is thinking about pursuing a claim (either against an insurance policy, neighbour, or third party) should do the following:

  • Take photographs of the damage;
  • Keep as much evidence as possible – damaged items etc. Where this is not possible, properly photograph everything to record its condition and the extent of the damage caused.
  • Contact your insurers as soon as possible.
  • Obtain quotes for the costs of the repair works.

The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Insurers and defendants will require you to provide evidence of each and every item you pursue a claim for so ensuring this information is obtained at an early stage will be crucial to the success of any claim.

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