Home insurance put to the test by stormy weather

10 March 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Home insurance is once again being tested by Mother Nature as heavy wind and rain storms hit the South West coasts of England.

Much of the South West has been hit by winds of up to 80 mph, causing damage to buildings and posing huge flood threats to coastal areas.

In the wake of last summer’s severe floods, the recent storms serve as a stark reminder to many of the importance of home insurance. According to Moneysupermarket.com, 40 per cent of homeowners in the UK are without home insurance, with 2.3 million homes currently standing on flood plains, this means that there could be as many as 900,000 uninsured homes currently at risk of flooding.

Lloyds TSB Insurance has already reported a 150 per cent rise in new claims compared with an ordinary Monday. Phil Loney, Managing Director of Lloyds TSB Insurance, said: "We’ve seen a massive increase in claims this morning and expect calls to continue at this level for the next 48 hours. So far all claims have been storm-related but, with today’s Spring tides, we’re prepared for flood claims to come through as well, this afternoon."

The Environment Agency has been issuing severe flood warnings throughout today and warns that those living in coastal areas should continue to check for flood warnings this evening.

Chief Executive Barbara Young of the Environment Agency said: "There is still a threat of flooding in these low lying coastal areas in the South West and in Wales. When you have wind, waves and high spring tides like this, the coast can be very dangerous. Don’t be tempted to go watch the waves come in – you’ll be putting yourself at risk."

Insurance companies have been offering advice on how best to defend your property if you live in a high risk area. Andrew Lowe, Direct Line’s Head of Home Insurance, said: "The UK has been hit by a series of severe weather events over the past few months so households may be even more vulnerable to damage than usual. Therefore, it’s even more important to prepare and secure your home against adverse weather."

Advice includes securing loose items such as garden furniture, checking for loose roof tiles and checking that guttering is in good condition. If you are affected by flooding, Direct Line advises taking photographs of the damage, and holding onto damaged possessions long enough for them to be assessed in the case of a claim.

Esure Home Insurance advises keeping useful insurance documents in one place so you can find them easily if you need to claim, it also advises prioritising valuable items, moving those most valuable to higher levels, where possible.

"There is no quick fix for flood damaged properties and the destructive power of water can turn lives upside down and damage personal belongings beyond repair," said Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at Esure Home Insurance.

"Taking precautions and being prepared for the unexpected, whenever it should strike, is crucial."

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