How to make an insurance claim for storm damage in UK

Many people across the southern half of the UK are likely to be trying to contact insurance companies, to arrange compensation for damage caused by the storm.

Typical cases will include broken garden fences, dislodged roofing tiles and minor damage to cars hit by debris.

Insurers say they should be able to deal with all the calls fairly easily, as they are used to this type of weather "event".

"Their first priority will be to work as quickly as possible to deal with claims, and help customers recover," said Mark Shepherd, a policy adviser to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Should I contact my insurer immediately, or wait for a couple of days?

Insurers advise that you should contact them as soon as possible. Most companies offer a 24 hour emergency helpline. But it is important that serious damage is inspected as soon as possible.

Am I covered for storm damage?

Most household, business and and comprehensive motor policies cover both flood and storm damage. If damage is serious, and you need to move out of your home temporarily, most policies will cover the cost up to a specified limit. Typically you can spend up to 20% of the total insured value to cover alternative accommodation and heating costs.

Can I arrange for repair work to be done immediately?

If work needs to be done to stop further damage occurring, you can go ahead and get the repair work done. But keep receipts. Photos are also a good idea.

Who will assess the damage?

If the damage is serious enough, your insurance company will appoint a loss adjuster. He or she is independent of the insurance company, but paid by it. A loss adjuster should contact you within 24 hours, and visit your home within three days. But bear in mind that many loss adjusters will be extremely busy for the next few weeks. The loss adjuster will give you a timetable for the repair work, and tell you who will be doing it.

Should I appoint my own loss adjuster?

If you decide to appoint your own, you will have to cover the costs yourself. The insurance company will not pay. So be certain to ask for their charges before you hire them. And remember that the insurer's own loss adjuster may have a different opinion to yours.

If a roof tile comes off, and causes damage to somebody else's property, am I covered?

Most buildings insurance policies contain liability cover, up to a certain amount. Individuals are advised to contact their insurance company for further advice.

Will insurance premiums go up as a result of this storm?

Insurance companies say they are not expecting premiums to go up "across the board" as a result of the St Jude storm. But anyone making a claim may lose their no claims discount next year, and so may have to pay a higher charge.

How much will this storm cost insurance companies?

It is still too early to say. The great storm of October 1987 cost insurance companies £2bn in today's money. But floods in the summer of 2007 cost more than that: £3bn.

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