Are you covered for earthquake damage?

Home owners hit by yesterday’s earthquake have been urged to contact their insurer as soon as possible to ensure their policy covers any damage.

The earthquake hit the UK at 12.55am last night (26 February) with tremors felt in Merseyside, Birmingham, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Surrey and London. Measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, the quake is the biggest felt in the UK for nearly a quarter of a century and has already generated thousands of home insurance claims.

The Association of Britsh Insurers said damage to homes or businesses from earthquakes is likely to be covered by insurance.

However, it urges people to make claims as soon as possible so that a loss adjustor can visit to assess any damage.

Abbey says it is expecting a flurry of claims over the next few days but warns that with one-in-four homes across the country uninsured - and many others not covered for earthquake damage - the tremors could hit home owners where it hurts.

Tony Beckwith, director of Abbey Insurance, also warned that the quake could have dramatically affected the structural safety of many homes.

He added: “We would advise anyone affected to check their property, contact the relevant utility company or their insurer if they see anything unusual.“

High street insurance retailer Swinton is also urging home owners to contact their insurer as soon as possible to ensure their claims can be processed.

Angela Lyth, head of home insurance at Swinton, also advised affected home owners to photographically record any damage to their property and possessions and document everything that has been damaged.

She said they should also check their insurance policy to see whether they are covered and what benefits they might be entitled to in light of the damage to their home.

For example, many people’s insurance policies cover alternative accommodation in the event of emergencies.

Once you have made a claim, Lyth says people should wait for approval from their insurance company before carrying out any repair work. They should also make sure they get several quotes from reputable companies and avoid doorstop builders.

Once work has been carried out, make sure you keep all your receipts to show your insurance company.

Andrew Lowe, head of home insurance at Direct Line, said priority areas to check for damage are roofs, tiles, chimneys and walls as if structurally affected these could present a danger to occupants.

He also reminds home owners to keep all damaged possessions as they will need to be assessed by the insurance company.

Top most common earthquake claims:

Pipes becoming dislodged underground
Cracks appearing in walls
Subsistence of structures
Pictures falling off walls
Chimney pots and roof tiles becoming dislodged
Source: Swindon 26/02/08


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