How to claim for storm damage: Q&A

28 October 2013

Thousands of homes are without power or flooded across southern England and Wales. Strong winds have brought down trees, roofs have been blown away, cars have been washed away. If your home or car have been damaged, or your travel plans have been disrupted, here's our guide to ensuring you don't lose out as a result. But first, a quick word of warning: before you pay for any damage, contact your insurer as it may require you to perform certain tasks (such as supplying it with evidence) before paying out.

Am I covered for storm damage?

Insurer LV says you will be covered for storm damage as this is what insurance was designed for – covering you for unexpected circumstances. If a falling tree has hit your house or car, either your buildings or car insurance should cover you. However, if your car insurance is third party only or third party fire and theft, you will not be covered. Check your policy to see how comprehensive your cover is.

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A fence panel has been blow down, is it my responsibility or my neighbour’s?

This depends on who owns the fence: you or your neighbour. Check the deeds to your property – on modern properties there is often a plan drawn to scale which shows the boundaries. If you don't have a copy, you can can obtain one from the Land Registry or try your solicitor/conveyer.

The Homeowners Alliance (HOA) says you should check the plans to see if there are any “T”s on any of the boundaries. A “T” shown on the inside of the boundary line indicates the ownership and responsibility to maintain – be it e.g. a wall or a fence. If the “T” is matched by another “T” on the boundary so it looks like a “H”, this shows the boundary to be a party wall/fence. This means joint responsibility for the maintenance of the wall/fence.

But if the deeds and plan do not give an indication of ownership you are then reliant on “presumptions”, the HOA says. “With regard to a wall, the boundary is likely to be on the far side of the garden wall because naturally it is presumed that the person who erected the wall would build it on his/her own land with its farthest side being the boundary,” it states. “As regards fences, the presumption is any posts will be on the owner’s side. Therefore he/she is responsible for maintaining the fence.”

Whether it's you or your neighbour's fence, it should be covered by your buildings insurance policy, should you wish to claim. It may well be cheaper (not to mention easier and quicker) to pay for someone to put a fence panel back up without claiming, as your insurance premiums could rise as a result of making a claim.

My kitchen has flooded. Am I covered?

You will be covered from flooding damage under either your buildings insurance or your contents insurance. If the damage is to something fixed, such as your kitchen, you will be covered by your buildings insurance, if it’s a movable object, such as TV, you will be covered by your contents insurance.

If I have been flooded what should I do?

Claire Francis, editor-in-chief at Moneysupermarket, says: “If you’ve been hit by flooding as a result of the storm it’s important to turn off your gas, electricity and water at the mains, and of course do not enter standing water if the electricity supply is on. Contact your insurer at the earliest opportunity and seek advice from them, and always take photos of the damage to show to your insurer too.”

How do I go about making a claim?

If you need to make a claim, you will need full details of what’s been damaged or lost and you will need evidence, such as photographs.

My flight was cancelled can I get a refund?

If your flight was cancelled you are entitled to a refund or an alternative flight to the destination, regardless of the cause of cancellation.

My train was cancelled can I get a refund?

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: "If you are unable to travel due to a cancelled or severely delayed train, you are entitled to a refund. If you do travel, as a minimum if your service is delayed by an hour of more, you should be entitled to some level of compensation but some train companies will consider delays of less than an hour, so it is important to check." 

So check with the train's operators as different companies have different guidelines, although most will issue some kind of refund if your journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more.
In terms of anytime tickets, National Rail added that if your ticket is unused or used for  only part of the journey then you can get a refund by returning the unused ticket to the ticket office or place of purchase within 28 days of the ticket expiry date.

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